Make this now, and you’ll have a winter full of warming, zesty dishes to look forward to.
Padma Lakshmi
Credit: Getty Images

We're always on the lookout for new recipe inspiration, and our latest culinary obsession comes from the one-and-only Padma Lakshmi. The chef, author and TV personality recently took to Instagram to share her grandmother Jima's recipe for a type of achar, or pickle, using lemons and we can't wait to try it out for ourselves. Check out the video, below:

What Is Achar?

Achar (or oorga) is a popular condiment found in South Asia, particularly, India. Its name comes from the Hindi word "achar," which means pickle or relish. According to Lakshmi's method, the fruit or vegetable of choice gets pickled through heavy salting and a long resting period to achieve a deep flavor before being sautéed with a host of aromatic spices.  

How to Make Achar 

Lakshmi gave her followers a detailed, step-by-step recipe to ensure perfect achar every time, which just may give you the confidence to try out this recipe on other fruits and vegetables, like mango or limes. You'll want to start this recipe ASAP, as it will take six months to draw out all the flavors—just in time to flavor all your favorite cozy winter meals. 

"I wish you could smell this because it's kind of divine," the chef says as she prepares this fragrant recipe. 

Padma Lakshmi's Lemon Pickle Recipe

(makes about 2 cups)


  • 6 lemons, scrubbed
  • 6 tablespoons coarse sea salt
  • 5 big black cardamom pods
  • 1/2 teaspoon black peppercorns
  • 1/2 teaspoon fennel or anise seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 3 heaping teaspoons cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon asafetida powder
  • 2-3 tablespoons neutral oil


1. Cut lemons into chunks; place them in a large airtight glass jar and cover with sea salt. Store the jar in a dark pantry cupboard for six months. (Optional: Add chopped ginger and green chile after about four months).

2. Place a small, dry pan over medium heat; add cardamom, peppercorns, fennel (or anise) seeds and cumin seeds; roast, stirring, until fragrant. When the spices are cool enough to handle, transfer them to a coffee grinder or mortar and pestle. Add cayenne, turmeric and asafetida; grind everything into a coarse powder.

3. Set the same pan you used to roast the spices over medium heat again; add oil. Add the freshly ground spices to the hot oil; cook, stirring, until the color has changed to a darker brown, 10 to 12 minutes.

4. Add the spices to the lemon and salt mixture and stir well. Keep this pickle in an airtight glass jar, where it will last for up to a year.

How to Use Lemon Pickle

Lakshmi says her lemon pickle is "delicious with just about anything." She advises using it as a relish for meats and sandwiches, but the chef says it also works well as a flavor enhancer when sautéing veggies or making a fresh batch of home fries. However, her favorite use for this spicy lemon relish is serving it with a big bowl of thayir sadam, a savory yogurt-and-rice dish that Lakshmi calls "her ultimate comfort food." Yum!