Homemade Punjabi pickles have turned out to be a treat for Kashmiris at the 10th Regional Saras Exhibition being held at Kashmir Haat in Srinagar. Like Punjabis, Kashmiris are food lovers.
Amar Singh (55) of Khudi Kalan village in Barnala, who has a stall of pickles at the exhibition, is more than happy with the response.
“Like pickles are being loved in Punjab, Kashmiris seem equally excited. The smell of pickles catches attention of visitors,” he says.
For people like Amar Singh, opportunities like selling their homemade products in different states remain limited. However; he is satisfied with the sale in the past eight days as his pickles have suited the taste buds of Kashmiri people.
“There was a strike for two days and many people could not visit us. Till now, my sale is nearly Rs 4 lakh. In the last two exhibitions, the response was not as good as it was today,” he says.
The Punjabi food is known for its flavour throughout the country, particularly pickles and chutneys. “Punjabis love their food, mostly pickles and chutneys. We are trying to keep our traditional food alive,” he says.
Some famous varieties that have tickled the taste buds of people in Srinagar at the exhibition are are “aam ka aachaar” (mango pickle), “aam ki chutney” (raw mango chutney), “adrak ka aachaar” (ginger pickle), “mirchi ka aachaar” (green chilli pickle), “lahsun ka aachaar” (garlic pickle), mushroom aachaar and “gaajar ka aachaar” (carrot pickle). The favourite among people in the Valley has been “aam ka aachaar” flavoured with aromatic spices, says Amar Singh.
“I witnessed the highest sale of ‘’aam ka aachaar’’. It is an all-time favourite across the country. It is simple yet very delicious,” he says.
Though the art of making pickle might seem fading or a tiresome work, but people like Amar Singh have turned it into their full-time work, a source of earning as well as serving the whole country the rich traditions of Punjab.
“Though packed pickles are available in markets, those fail to match up with rustic flavours and characteristics of home-made pickles. This is our hard work. It takes us from 15 days to three months to prepare those. The secret behind the taste is our patience,” says Amar Singh.
His hard work has been warmly welcomed in Kashmir. The process of making pickles in Punjab starts with drying the ingredients in the sun, he says.
He says the ingredients are soaked in oil and spices and finally let to age in the sun for some time to develop the flavours. He has been involved in making and marketing homemade pickles for many years.
“Our hard work never goes unrewarded. Whoever tastes Punjabi pickles wants to eat more and appreciate our work,” he adds.