Friday, January 31, 2014

Erachi Achar - Beef Pickle


We malayalees are a very imaginative lot. Which is why we name our children in ways that make them want to jump in front of a super express train. Only in Kerala would Suja's and Mathew's kid be called Maja, and Rani's and Balu's kid be named Luni. (Thus assuring the world that both parents contributed equally to the birth of the child.) Aprilmon would be the unfortunate boy who made his appearance on earth in April, and Maymol would be the girl who was born in, you guessed it, the month of May! With all due respect to people who make it to the obituary column, the names of the deceased's kids make for some fun reading at times. I came across an Anish, Binish, Danish and Finish brotherhood once. Guess the parents (one of them featured in the paper) had wanted a girl but decided to put a finish to all their trials with the birth of Finish.

But these kids who are so lovingly named by their parents grow apart from one another in due course of time over petty issues. "Mother had promised me all her jewellery!", "I want the roadside property, you can have the kandam", "I am not taking care of the old man unless I have more than your share of the bank balance" are frequent complaints.

My brother and I don't seem very bothered about money. Atleast I am not, I don't know if he is that noble. When we were kids, and even in our twenties, we fought over the more basic of needs - food. (Guess it wasn't nobility, but our well pronounced animal instincts that kept us away from fights over money). This meant that if we had a can of pepsi, we poured it into two glasses and double checked that the level of drink in our glasses was the same, always doing this at eye level to ensure accurate reading. We didn't share like civil beings, no sir. Everything had to divided equally to the last drop and morsel and any argument was settled through fist fights. I had no self control and finished my share quickly. But he kept some leftover so he could eat gloatingly in front of me the next day. Little did he know I would nick a bit, ok, more than a bit every now and then. :D (I have always been the smarter one.

But, when it came to non vegetarian pickles, my mother always found excuses to give him more than she gave me. At first, he was away in college while I was at home, so he needed it more than me. Then, by the time I went to college, he started working in Bangalore. So again he was further away from home than I was and while he got prawn pickle, I got sardine pickle. And finally, when I made it to Bangalore, he packed his bags and went off to NY! Now he gets huge bharanis of beef achar and I get only a tiny bottle which gets over all too quickly. I am not so lucky all the time; sometimes all I am given is a slice of bread to clean up the pan in which the achar is made. The injustice of it all!

My only consolation is that I have the recipe for best beef pickle in the world.


1 kg beef
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
To taste, salt

3 teaspoons mustard seeds
½ teaspoon fenugreek seeds
2 garlic pods (around 40 garlic cloves - the small kind), each clove sliced into two 
1½ inch piece ginger, chopped
2 tablespoons garlic paste
1½ tablespoon ginger paste
½ teaspoon fennel seeds, powdered
3 tablespoon red chili powder
½ teaspoon garam masala powder
To fry, gingelly oil (sesame oil)
3/4 cup vinegar, approximately
2 teaspoons sugar


Cut the beef into small pieces, about 3/4 inch cubes. Mix in turmeric powder and salt. Pressure cook without adding water till beef is cooked (but take care not to overcook it). Open lid and boil off any excess water.

In a large pan, heat oil and deep fry beef in batches over medium heat. Stir every now and then. (Again, do not over cook/fry, or the beef pieces will become tough). Keep fried beef aside.

In the same pan, add more oil if required so that you have about a cup in it. Add mustard seeds followed by fenugreek seeds and let splutter. Toss in chopped ginger and garlic and fry well. The ginger and garlic pastes need to go in next. Fry till oil separates. Reduce heat and add chili powder, fennel seed powder and garam masala. Saute for a minute. Add meat and mix well so that meat is coated well with the fried paste. Add some oil if the mixture appears dry. Pour in 3 quarter cup vinegar and mix well. Bring to boil and mix in sugar. Take off heat and let cool. Transfer to clean glass jars and store in refrigerator. 


~ I know it sounds like a lot of oil and vinegar, but it you don't add so much, the pickle may get spoilt and wouldn't taste quite like a pickle. The recipe quantities are approximate, you may need to add more oil and vinegar if the beef pieces don't seem to be properly coated with the pickling liquid.

~ If the pickle is meant to travel overseas along with you or your family, then don't add so much vinegar. Once the pickle reaches its destination, add in more vinegar.

~ Pickle taken out of the fridge doesn't taste as good as it should. So, you can store as much as you would need for a week in a small bottle outside.

Enjoy with rice, bread and roti, and don't share with anyone! 


  1. Its a fun post Indu!!! I was wondering what happened and why you didn't post anything for more than a week...:) The achar looks super delicious!!!
    You reminded me of my college days where we friends bring our bottles of assigned pickles and we devour on them so much with yogurt and rice and would finish them within a month. Pickles were our only relief for the monotonous hostel food.

    1. Thanks Shibi! :) Yes, pickles were a saviour during college days

  2. Ha ha...Finish...seriously!! I know have friends who hesitate to say their name scared of being ridiculed.

    The other day I read somewhere" eat beef as much as you want this year as next year it is going to cost more". At this rate we might have to fight for cattle more than jewellery and property..
    Erachi achar looks ugran...

  3. Finish - really? If at all kids were given a choice to pick their names...Was wondering how Mary's and Kristy's child be called Makri :D

    The pickle looks so mouthwatering...I myself haven't tried my hands on non veg pickles yet...I should try it soon...Dinner in hostel soon after vacations would be a treat of pickles that all our friends would have bought...they did help us survive the home sickness + routine hostel food

  4. wow...that is seriously yummy....curd rice is something that will be best to suit this....

  5. Hahaha.... names! seriously crazy. I once met two kids at the airport Snowmon and snowmol ;-)

    The achar looks delicious Indu... so spicy looking!

  6. Love your writing style, Indu.. am a American Keralite myself and have been more than amused at the funny names and the funnier accents .. aahh the God's own country.. love the land and the people and all the craziness that come with it.. your posts are always a breath of fresh air.. please keep writing.


  7. Beeffffffffffffffffffff Pickleeeeeee... Yummy!!!! That's all I have to say!!! Lovely pics :)

  8. BTW, I had a friend Vinish whose had brothers named ANish and Binish .. LOL!!!!

  9. brother and I also did the cola eye level exactness thing. And while you were the smart one, in our family he was the smart one who would finish his stuff of quickly and I (who at that time thought was being smart by slowly eating my share) would always pity him and give him a piece of my chocolate or whatever it was that we had divided equally and he had finished. I doubt I will ever make beef pickly, but I like ths ound of the spices used so pinning this recipe. My mom would make blue bull (nilgai) pickle when we were kids. It was the tastiest thing I have ever had.

  10. I love homemade achar but i have mostly tried making them with veggies like carrots and lemons. This beefy version looks incredible!

  11. I have certainly heard of mutton and fish pickle and have even tasted one and they are amazing. I am going to use lamb and try your recipe. thanks for sharing.

  12. I know a family with 3 sons Amon,Bmon and lastly....u guessed it..Cmon.
    Those poor kids...!!!
    Indu im def trying this..can you explain if the gingelly oil is what you used for deep frying or just for the last stage with mustard seeds?

    1. ABC Mon!!!! :O !

      Yes, I used gingely oil for deep frying as well. It increases the shelf life of the pickle.

    2. Indu i just made this pickle....OMG delish!!! And im not eating it like a pickle...its more like a main dish for me:) So looks like its going to be over very soon !!!

    3. :D Thanks for trying out, Deepa. Yes, I eat it more like a main dish too. And my mom keeps warning me about acidity!

  13. This achar looks definitely yumm.. You said it right the world's best pickle recipe.. And lovely clicks. Keep rocking

  14. Achaar looks super spicy and yummy...

  15. Looks sooo yummy! I could almost kill for some now

  16. The write up cracked me, seriously. I am one of those who belongs to the 'jumping on the train' type. I got a very weird family name, seriously and we use it as surname here in UK and ppl call me using that weirdo surname!! I have had problems with it in school, college and now after coming to UK it just got worse. It wouldnt have been a problem if I were in India though, I guess. We have the tradition of adding the mother family name along with kids name, but I had put it to a full stop. I dint pass it on my children!

    Lovely recipe btw. I love beef and would love to make it sometime. I have never seen the Indian kind of vinegar here. Could you please tell me what vinegar exactly did u use here?

    1. :D Ya, now we need global names... :)

      You can use white vinegar. Let me know how the pickle turns out.....

  17. Hi Indu..I want to make the same.beef pickle and end It abroad. .please et me know which oil is better to use..sesame or sunflower and I preserve it in glass or plastic bottle..? And any other tips so that it wont get spoilt by the time It reaches there y flight which will be abt 2 days

    1. Hi Priyanka....You need to use gingelly oil (sesame seed oil - ellenna) since it doesn't spoil easily...
      You need to fry the beef properly (taking care it doesn't become tough).

      The pickle wouldn't spoil in 2 days if you follow the recipe. Once you reach your destination, just add in enough vinegar and refrigerate.

      Hope this helps.

    2. And Priyanka. I usually store in plastic bottles with tight lids.

  18. Hey, this is gr8. Would love to try to. But one Q though, how long can I keep this? I mean, I can bottle this and use for months, right?

    1. Yes you can. Provided you use sesame seed oil and vinegar as specified in recipe. If you love in a warm place, then refrigerate.


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