Carrot Pickle (Gajar ka Achar)


These Indian style carrot pickles (gajar ka achar in Hindi) can turn any meal from drab to fab. They are fermented and probiotic and they taste so vibrant with salty, spicy and tangy flavor notes. Serve the pickle alongside dal and rice for a delicious and nutritious dinner.

A bowl of pickled carrots with a spoon.

If you enjoy a good Indian pickle you will fall in love with this vegan carrot pickle.

Indian pickles can be addictive, because the unique combination of spices, mustard oil and salt packs in more flavor than you can imagine. Pickles have long been valued in Indian homes for their probiotic benefits but unfortunately most store bought pickles do not offer those benefits because they are pasteurized.

A few years back, as I learned more about the power of fermented foods like sauerkraut and sourdough, I also turned to making my own Indian pickles at home (like this amazing lime pickle), much as my mother and grandmother did. I discovered that not only is the process easy, but the result is far tastier and more nutritious than anything you can buy in a jar off a shelf.

I’ve since pickled all sorts of veggies, but one of my favorites is by far this delicious carrot pickle. Not only is it super easy to make, but it amplifies the natural healthfulness of carrots. Best of all, it tastes amazing as a side with a simple Indian meal of dal and rice.

Why you’ll love this carrot pickle

  • It can transform any ordinary meal into a delicious experience. A typical Indian meal consists of dal and rice and/or roti and sabzi (cooked vegetable side). Adding a spoonful of this carrot pickle to that simple meal punches up the flavor.
  • It is probiotic and good for you. If you are reading this, I don’t need to tell you about the benefits of probiotic foods. Including a spoonful of this pickle in your diet everyday can work wonders for your gut bacteria and microbiome.
  • It is easy to make. I usually make pickles in summer when the sun is at its fiercest, but these carrot pickles don’t need to stand in the sun. You can leave them on your countertop for about a week to ferment. After that you can store them in the fridge.
  • Everyone will love them. Did I say Indian pickles are addictive? If you’ve never eaten them before, you absolutely need to try them. Kids usually love them too! I can’t easily get Jay to eat yogurt or foods with sourdough but he will gobble down pickles.
A bowl of Indian pickled carrots or gajar ka achar with spoon.

Frequently asked questions

Do I need to keep these pickles in the sun?

No, they will ferment nicely on your countertop, as sauerkraut would.

Can I eat the pickles immediately after making them?

You can, but you won’t get the probiotic benefit that you’d get after fermenting them. But they’d be delicious and nutritious anyway because carrots and the spices pack a lot of benefits.

Is mustard oil safe to use in pickles?

Indian pickles are made with mustard oil, which has a sharp, pungent flavor. However, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration requires mustard oil sold in the United States to be labeled as being “for external use only” because it has a high erucic acid content. There is some concern that erucic acid can elevate the risk of heart disease, although other sources say that is not a conclusive finding. There is now a food grade mustard seed oil available, which is sourced from seeds that are bred to reduce the erucic acid content.
Ultimately it is up to you whether or not you want to use mustard oil in this pickle or any other recipe. Mustard oil is used widely in India, and I use it in just a handful of dishes where it makes a big difference to the flavor. I buy mustard oil at the Indian grocery store and I have occasionally bought this brand online, on Amazon.

Do I need to sterilize the equipment for making the pickle?

You should sterilize the grater, bowl and ladle you will use to mix the pickle, but you don’t need to sterilize the skillet as you will be heating that. And it is absolutely important that you sterilize the mason jars you will store the pickles in.

How long can I store these carrot pickles?

Pickles made and fermented properly can be stored in the fridge for up to a year.

Ingredients

  • Carrots. Buy organic carrots for pickles if you can.
  • Ginger. This is not absolutely necessary and you can skip it, but I love the flavor of the carrots and ginger.
  • Pickling spices: Fennel seeds (saunf), nigella seeds (kalonji), fenugreek seeds (methi), cayenne (lal mirch), turmeric (haldi), mustard seeds (rai) and asafetida (hing).
  • Salt. Salt is an important ingredient in a pickle so use a good salt like sea salt, kosher salt or Himalayan pink salt.
  • Vegetable oil. Although mustard oil imparts an authentic flavor, you don’t have to use it (see FAQs above for more on this). Any vegetable oil that can withstand high temperatures is fine. Don’t use coconut oil, which will get solid at cold temperatures and mess up the consistency of the pickle.

How to make carrot pickle

  • Grate the carrots and ginger and place in a large bowl.
  • Place the fennel seeds, nigella seeds and fenugreek seeds in a skillet and toast them for 3-5 minutes, over medium heat, until very fragrant.
  • Remove the seeds to a plate and when they have cooled place them in a blender or coffee grinder with the turmeric and cayenne. Blend into a powder. Add to the bowl with the carrots and ginger.
  • Heat the mustard oil until it’s smoking hot. Add the mustard seeds to the hot oil along with the asafetida. As soon as the mustard seeds sputter take it off the stove and carefully pour the hot oil mixture into the bowl with the carrots and ginger. Stir in the salt and mix well.
  • Once the pickle has cooled down, pack it into sterilized mason jars making sure the carrots are submerged under a thin layer of oil on top. This will keep the carrots from getting moldy.
  • Let the mason jars stand on the countertop for a week. Stir them every other day with a clean, sterilized spoon, always making sure you pack them under the layer of oil.
  • After a week the pickles should have softened considerably. Serve them and store the remaining pickles in the fridge.

Key food safety tip!

With any fermented food, there is a chance of mold developing. Make sure you dry the carrots thoroughly after washing them and sterilize all the equipment used to make the pickle (except the skillet). Also make sure you don’t cut down on the amount of oil–it might seem a lot, but remember, each jar of pickles has at least 40-50 servings. If the pickle develops mold or smells moldy, discard it immediately.

How to serve pickle

More yummy carrot recipes

A bowl of gajar ka achar with a jar of the pickled carrots in background.
Pickled carrots or gajar ka achar in bowl.

Carrot Pickle (Gajar ka Achar)

These Indian style carrot pickles (gajar ka achar in Hindi) can turn any meal from drab to fab. They are fermented and probiotic and they taste so vibrant with salty, spicy and tangy flavor notes. Serve the pickle alongside dal and rice for a delicious and nutritious dinner.

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Review Recipe

Course: Condiment

Cuisine: Indian

Diet: Gluten Free, Vegan, Vegetarian

Keyword: Carrot Pickle

Servings: 100 servings (approx 1 tablespoon each)

Calories: 35kcal

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Instructions

  • Grate the carrots and ginger using the large holes on the grater. Place in a large bowl.

  • Place the fennel seeds, nigella seeds and fenugreek seeds in a skillet and toast them for 3-5 minutes, over medium heat, until very fragrant.

  • Remove the seeds to a plate and when they have cooled place them in a blender or coffee grinder with the turmeric and cayenne. Blend into a powder. Add to the bowl with the carrots and ginger.

  • Heat the oil until it’s smoking hot. Add the mustard seeds to the hot oil along with the asafetida. As soon as the mustard seeds sputter take it off the stove and carefully pour the hot oil mixture into the bowl with the carrots and ginger. Stir in the salt and mix well.

  • Once the pickle has cooled down, pack it into sterilized mason jars making sure the carrots are submerged under a thin layer of oil on top. If the oil doesn’t rise to the top, pour some more into the jar until the carrots are submerged. This will keep the carrots from getting moldy. I filled one mason jar within an inch to the top, and a second about ¾ths full.

  • Let the mason jars stand on the countertop for a week. Stir them every other day with a clean, sterilized spoon, always making sure you pack them under the layer of oil.

  • After a week the pickles should have softened and will look darker. Serve them and store the remaining pickles in the fridge.

Recipe notes

  • Nutrition information for sodium is for ¼ cup salt. If you use more, the sodium content will increase.
  • With any fermented food, there is a chance of mold developing. Make sure you dry the carrots thoroughly after washing them and sterilize all the equipment used to make the pickle (except the skillet). Also make sure you don’t cut down on the amount of oil–it might seem a lot, but remember, each jar of pickles has at least 40-50 servings. If the pickle develops mold or smells moldy, discard it immediately.
  • Pickles made and fermented properly can be stored in the fridge for up to a year.

Nutrition

Serving: 1tablespoon (approx) | Calories: 35kcal | Carbohydrates: 1g | Protein: 0.2g | Fat: 3g | Saturated Fat: 0.4g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 2g | Sodium: 289mg | Potassium: 39mg | Fiber: 0.4g | Sugar: 0.5g | Vitamin A: 1524IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 5mg | Iron: 0.1mg

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