Umma's Lime Pickle without Water

An Indian style lime pickle made with limes preserved in vinegar and salt and no added water is my Umma's signature pickle recipe. 

I never had to make pickles because I always had someone who I know are amazing generous pickle makers. Honestly, I loved the pickles my friends made than my own family made. Our family pickles, as far as I know, are not the ones that stay longer, they are made to be consumed immediately or within days. Also, it is predominately dates, lime or mango pickle. We pretty much lived on jars of store-bought pickles.

Umma's Lime Pickle without Water

Post marriage we had our own in-house pickle maker - Umma (mil). I was amazed at her culinary expertise and collection of pickles. I literally used to eat every meal with one of her pickle bottles next to me 😊. When I came to Yanbu, I brought along with me a BIG bottle of her lime pickle. It does not require to be refrigerated which was one of the facts I loved it and it even survived the middle east weather condition!

Today I am sharing my attempt at replicating her lime pickle recipe. Like most of the recipes, this one too was made out of the need for pickle moment! Her bottle of pickle lasted for 6 months and while it was getting closer to being over, I asked Umma to share the recipe as soon as possible. Guess what? she shared a voice message via WhatsApp with a detailed procedure. What better way? 😝

Update: 30th May 2017: By now I have made this pickle four times and so the recipe is a fail-proof. New images too.  

Umma's Lime Pickle without Water

Now you may ask why not get a jar from the store, well in Yanbu Indian style pickle is a rare thing. One of the days we noticed they had bottles of pickles called "Patakas" and I was so happy to see them and just picked three different flavours. Trust me, they are not made for us, it was very low on spice and heat - almost bland. 😝 But sometimes better for a rainy day! πŸ˜€

Umma's Lime Pickle without Water

So this is my first attempt at making a serious pickle. I am saying seriously because I have attempted before which was just sautΓ©ing, tempering and refrigerating. Those kinds are good when we make a small batch for two people. This lime pickle gets better each day and does not have any water in it so stays longer. Now that is what we look for in pickles - homemade that lasts longer and gets tastier!

Umma's Lime Pickle without Water

Don't get intimidated with the word serious or no water. This is very easy than I thought and anyone can easily make this. All they need are simple everyday ingredients like salt and vinegar πŸ˜Š The whole procedure involves making lime preserves and holding off making the pickle at least for a month or more.

Note: I have used a big bottle to make the preserve which was not necessary. You can use a smaller one and press in the limes into the bottle tightly as that will help the vinegar to reach each piece easily. Ok, let us move on the ingredients first... 

Umma's Lime Pickle without Water

Umma's Lime Pickle without Water 

Yields: With 11 to 12 limes you will get about 2 to 3 cups of the pickle. 


For the Lime preserve 
12 limes - washed and completely dried 
10 to 12 teaspoons of salt (I used sea salt)
1 cup white vinegar or enough to cover all the lime in the bottle

For the pickle
all of the preserved limes 
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoon coconut oil
1 teaspoon mustard seeds
1 teaspoon fenugreek seeds
2 pinch asafoetida (Hing)
fistful curry leaves or more 
6 green chillies 
15 garlic, finely chopped
2-inch fresh ginger, finely chopped
1 1/2 tablespoons red chilli powder (adjust accordingly) 
1/2 tablespoon Kashmiri red chilli powder
1 teaspoon turmeric powder 
Salt to taste (may not require at all but check and add)
Vinegar from the preserve jar and more to adjust the consistency 


You will need: 
  • A clean bottle which can hold all the limes. Prepare the bottle a day ahead by washing it in hot water and drying it thoroughly. 
  • Keep your hands, knife, cutting board etc water-free. 
  • Another smaller jar or bottle - again washed and dried to store the prepared pickle
Prepare the Preserve
  1. Thoroughly wash the limes and let it dry completely.
  2. Quarter each lime, slicing them all the way down but leave the slices attached at the end. What we want is whole lime with four wedges that are still attached. 
  3. Put one teaspoon of salt into the cavity of each lime.
  4. Now, place each lime into the clean jar. It is okay to press them in if there is space constraint. 
  5. Pour in the vinegar until it covers all of the limes and then, close the jar tightly
  6. Let it sit at room temperature, preferably in a dark place
  7. Never open the lid. Let it be there at least a month before you want to make the pickle. The more it sits, the softer the lime gets.
Prepare the Pickle

Umma's Lime Pickle without WaterUmma's Lime Pickle without Water

  1. Heat coconut or sesame oil in a flat bottomed wide saucepan
  2. Keep the flame on low to medium all the time
  3. Add mustard seeds, let it splutter and then add fenugreek seeds, curry leaves and asafoetida 
  4. Saute until fragrant 
  5. Add the chopped green chillies, garlic and ginger
  6. Saute the mixture until fragrant and ginger gets a bit soft and sticking
  7. Add the spice powders and mix well
  8. Add the preserved limes along with all the vinegar liquid from the bottle 
  9. Now if you feel the liquid is not enough for the mixture to come to BOIL, then add some more vinegar and let the mixture come to boil 
  10. Do a taste test and adjust the salt before you switch off 
  11. Let it cool completely and transfer to a clean bottle with a dry spoon and store it away from moisture. 
  12. This pickle doesn't need refrigeration during any weather condition. I have tested in all seasons here. If you are not confident to leave it outside, you can keep it in the fridge and use. 
  13. Your pickle is ready! 
Umma's Lime Pickle without Water

Now  I can relax and get back to making more parathas because I have a jar of the pickle! :-P

Btw, remember this post? Both my mom and umma loved the pickle!

So take time out, get a bag full of lime, make the preserve, store for weeks, and then making this pickle in a jiffy.