Aka, Pakistani Vegetable Style Pickles! Nani, her sister, sisters-in-law and other female cousins visiting her, would divide the work of cleaning and chopping up tons of vegetables along with cleaning, roasting and grinding of a sack load of spices. Rock salt was bought and crushed at home in a gigantic brass pestle mortar called a hammam dasta. Dried haldi (turmeric) rhizomes/roots were crushed to make powder at home. Large martabans (clay pots) were bought and seasoned for the pickling process. Fresh mustard oil was ordered from Nani’s trusted teli (oil-maker). Mustard oil was prepared for use on an outdoor wood-fire stove.
Pickling involved tons of work and working together allowed these women to bond and share their issues, stories, and happy moments. During these moments, Nani would find out about domestic issues and offer help, advice and intervene if needed. Nani being the oldest daughter-in-law, kept her and her husband’s family together, which was a rare trait of hers.
This year I decided to make Nani’s traditional pickle at home which was my first attempt of pickling. I had help from my cook, hence the process was smooth. My produce also has a share for my mother-in-law and aunts who are anxiously waiting for it to be prepared. I hope I can continue to do this every year.
To me, this activity is therapeutic and my own way of connecting to a woman I loved and didn’t get the chance to know as much as I would have wanted to.
Click here for the recipe: http://blogs.tribune.com.pk/story/27824/my-nanis-achaar-pakistani-styled-vegetable-pickle/