Included in the Huffington Post Kitchen Daily – Homemade Fruit and Vegetable Pickle Recipe
Almost every Indian restaurant in the northern parts of India will have this little bowl of vinegar dipped little red onions waiting for you when you get yourself seated.
While you relax and flip over the menu, your hand will unconsciously reach out to the bowl and before you know it you are munching on these sour onions. Your mouth will pucker, you will also squeeze one of your eyes shut trying to adjust to the sudden burst of taste and flavor:) And there will be refills when you are done with a bowl.
I mentioned that these are served in the restaurants in the northern India. That might not be entirely true. They might be served in the other regions too, only I do not know about it. I do not have many memories of restaurants in any place else.
I am not sure if pickled onions are true to Indian roots or remnants of the British culture in India or if the concept has been transported back to England from India. Onions pickled in vinegar and salt in a similar fashion are served with the fish and chips and also the Ploughnam’s Lunch in UK.
My little T loves to peel off the little onions and bring out the tiniest bulb from inside. She “skins” the onions as she says it, to get the babies out!
Last year when we were back home, the girls got pretty excited when they encountered these. I usually make these at home with large onions chopped in chunks when we eat something rich and spicy or the typical Chicken Tikka, Butter Chicken, Biryani, Koftas or any kind of rich and spicy curries or any grilled food. But really they are welcome with any Indian meal. This time we got these lovely pearl onions and pickled them – just “the Indian restaurant way”.
The grilling season being on now during summer, a bowlful of these onions are just the right things to have ready at hand.
I am aware that the onions are not loved by a lot. But those of you who like some pickled ones with your grilled and spicy food, these are just the perfect ones – a little tart and much mellowed soaking for long in the vinegar.
Sirke Wali Pyaaz: Pickled Onions – The Indian Restaurant Way
Note: I have known some recipe where beetroot is simmered with water. The water is then strained and cooled completely. The reason is to impart the pink color to the onions as they look that way in the restaurants. I have never done this as I have always used red onions and never felt the need to make them look otherwise. This particular process does not change the taste of the onions, only the way it looks.
- 40 pearl onions, peeled (shallots or large red onions may be pickled too if they are peeled and cut in desired size) – Please do not use frozen onions for this pickle. It will be disaster. The frozen ones have no crunch left to them and smell too stale for this pickle.
- 1 cup water
- 1/2 cup + 1 tablespoon ( or more or less as per taste), cider or any other light colored vinegar (you may use any light colored vinegar for extra flavor)
- 2 pinches of salt, or to taste
- a pinch of sugar (optional)
- spices if you wish (the authentic ones do not have spices, but black pepper, bay leaf, cinnamon etc may be used)
Slice off the ends of each onion. Peel them completely. Place peeled onions in a non reactive jar or a bowl.
(If you are using spices and/or beetroot, simmer them in water for a while, strain and completely cool the water)
Add salt and sugar to water and stir them in as they completely dissolve. Mix water with vinegar. Adjust salt. Pour over the onions in the jar/bowl. The onions should be completely covered and have the liquid come up half an inch above the level of the onions.
The longer they soak the deeper the color of the liquid gets (if you are using the red pearl onions and the texture of the onions change too. They absorb more flavor and will get less crunchy.
Let them marinate for a few hours (3 hours to 5 hours). Drain and serve.
The onions may be kept in the refrigerator for 2 days after they have been drained.
Preparation Time: 15 minutes (to peel onion and prepare the vinegar and water)
Cooking/Marinating Time: 3-5 hours
Difficulty Level: Very Easy
Shelf Live: 2 days
Serves/Makes: 20 marinated and pickled pearl onions