The piquant notes merge with the voluptuous hot ones
the sour tanginess enhanced by the pungency of mustard oil
softening under the harsh spotlight of sun
imbibing the notes of various whole spices
fiery notes tango with tart tones
finally ordinary sour, raw mangoes elevated 
to a coveted, exalted position as the king of pickles!

Plentiful, succulent, sunshine yellow, tongue curling orbs
cut into petals yet held together at base
drenched in a mix of salt and sugar
then put out to sun in a mason jar
left alone to marinate and stew in their own sour acidity
they mellow gently over the months under the hot sun
tanning from an eye catching yellow to an earthy brown
their taste so unlike what they were born with!

A medley of winter vegetables, peeled and sliced
a handful of mustard powder and some heat- inducing spices
all mixed in a large cauldron over heat
kept in a jaggery and vinegar bath
under the variegated skies of December
till they are cured of their raw texture
cornucopia of tasty crunchy mouthfuls!

My mouth floods with the memories of childhood
the homely dal- rice* or the humble roti-sabzi**
getting a sexy makeover
when paired with the palate tickling pickles
untold happiness in every morsel
handmade traditions passed from one generation to the other
staring at extinction as tastes change
and mass production to suit markets holds sway.

Written for dVerse poetics. Today’s host, Sarah, says: So, your mission for tonight is to write a poem about food – about preparing food, or eating food; about family meals, or posh restaurants; about the emotional heft of a particular dish, the meaning that it brings to your table; about something you love or something you loathe. Maybe your dad always made eggs a certain way, maybe there’s a sauce that reminds you of a lost love, maybe the smell of something takes you back to childhood. Unpack it a little, and share it with us. Maybe we can create a recipe book of memories and associations?

Sarah very sweetly offered me a chance to cheat and post a poem already posted earlier, when I mentioned I have written many verses on food! Since I am in the process of making pickles, I thought I would write about north Indian pickles.

* lentils and rice

** Indian flatbread served with cooked vegetables.

86 thoughts on “Pickles

  1. I remember my grandmother used to make pickles like this. As kids it was our job to put them out in the sunlight, give a few shakes to them and bring them in at sunset. Your poem have evoked lot of happy memories.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. This sound so delicious. Imagining the tang and heat on my tongue. My grandma used to can bread and butter pickles that were so tasty, sweet but not spicy. I love fermented foods and they are so good for digestive health. I enjoyed your loving description of the pickles and learned a lot about them.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Ah…you evoke memories with every delectable word, and letters. I lived in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia and used to love eating in little Indian cafés, for the food, people and atmosphere…I won’t say which area/food I liked best! I must say a small Afghan place in Saudi used to make very similar to what you describe, as well as the very best bread and ful, which they did almost like dal.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Hehe! I’m sure I’m in the minority of not liking pickled anything! The poem on the other hand is a delightful stroll through your childhood memories and those tastes that trigger them!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh, that’s great. Yes, I have been doing that too. But our palate is so accustomed to spices that every once in a while there is an intense craving for something hot and tangy.


  5. Oh my the tingling sensations your poem and pictures brought to my mouth! Add to that the nostalgia of childhood memories associated with these jars of variety pickles – your post has become a complete experience for me :))

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Wow, wow, wow! You have composed such a tantalizing poem here 😀 I love; “My mouth floods with the memories of childhood the homely dal- rice* or the humble roti-sabzi** getting a sexy makeover.”

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ah! Thanks, Irene. The lemons are pickled since there is nothing much to do for that. They should be ready in a couple of months.
      The winter vegetables; carrots, turnips and cauliflower, I finished with today. Three- four days of sun and they will be ready for consumption. Thanks for asking.


  7. Just delicious, Punam! I am obsessed with mango pickle at the moment, it’s my favourite. I eat it right out of the jar with a spoon. And the humble roti sabzi meal is also my fave 🙂 Right, you’ve made me hungry so I’m off to the pickle jar now…!! ❤

    Liked by 1 person

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