MEETHA NIMBOO ACHAAR (lemon pickle, about 6 cups)
6 large (2 pounds) lemons
½ cup kosher salt
2 tablespoons cumin seeds, crushed
2 tablespoons black peppercorns, crushed
1 teaspoon ajowan seeds or 1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 cup fresh lemon juice (from 4 to 5 juicy lemons)
3-1/2 cups sugar
20 dried whole hot red chili pods
¾ cup (4 ounces) California pitted dates, sliced into julienne strips
- Cut lemons into eighths or 1/8 inch thick slices. Carefully remove seeds and discard. Put lemons into a 3-quart microwave-safe casserole. Add salt, cumin, pepper and ajowan, toss well and cover with lid. Cook at 100% power in a 650 to 700 watt carousel oven for 4 minutes (or until lemon looks slightly limp and turns dull yellow).
- Remove from oven, transfer lemon slices with a slotted spoon to a bowl and reserve. Add lemon juice and sugar to the casserole and mix well. Cook, uncovered, at 100% power for 20 minutes (or until the solution turns thick and syrupy – watch carefully, mixture has tendency to boil over and make a mess of your oven). Remove from the oven.
- Add lemon slices and their accumulated juices, pepper pods and dates and mix well. Cook, uncovered, at 100% power for 4 minutes (or until contents are bubbling hot). Remove from oven. Spoon lemon slices into sterilized jars. When completely cool, cover with the lid.
- The pickle will keep well, stored in a covered container, for a year at room temperature.
from Julie Sahni, The Moghul Microwave