Umma's Lime Pickle without Water

Indian Lime pickle made with preserved limes. The pickle has no addition of water making it last longer on the shelf. 
Umma's Lime Pickle without Water
I never had to make pickles because I always had someone who I know are an amazing generous pickle maker. 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. 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 failproof recipe replicating umma's lime pickle. Like most of the recipes, this one too was made out of the need for a pickle moment! Umma's bottle of pickle lasted for 6 months and while it was getting closer to being over, I asked her to share the recipe as soon as possible. Guess what? she shared a voice message via WhatsApp with a detailed procedure. What better way? 😝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!

Making this lime pickle is easy than I thought and anyone can make this. All you need are simple ingredients like salt and a little vinegar or more lime juice 😊 The whole procedure involves making preserved limes and holding off making the pickle at least for a month or more. The method shown here requires only two ingredients and few minutes. Leave the limes to cure a month or longer before using them to make the pickle. 

Ingredients for Lime Pickle without water

Lime pickle ingredients laid out

ingredients for lime preserve:

  1. lime or lemons 
  2. sea salt or table salt
  3. white vinegar

ingredients for lime pickle:

  1. coconut oil
  2. mustard seeds
  3. fenugreek seeds
  4. asafoetida (hing)
  5. curry leaves 
  6. green chillies
  7. garlic cloves
  8. fresh ginger
  9. red chilli powder (adjust accordingly) 
  10. Kashmiri red chilli powder or paprika
  11. turmeric powder 

How to make preserved limes?

Step 1: Choose the Lime

The best lime to use for this pickle is the Indian yellow small-sized limes. 

Update August 2020: The below-pictured lime pickling batch was made in my Abu Dhabi kitchen and after a month, I made the pickle which turned out very bitter and there were too many seeds in them. So, I would not recommend these green limes that are with seeds. Please buy the limes that are yellow and if possible seedless :-P But I had to fix the bitterness so googled for some help. Apparently, there is a fix for bitter lime pickle! Just add more freshly squeezed lime juice, more salt and more chilli powder and maybe a bit of sugar. Adjust as you taste and boil one last time before you switch off.  

Lime Pickle without Water

Step 2 - Salt the limes

Salt is the key to making unadulterated preserved limes. The salt-filled limes release their juices and they start pickling in their own juices. You will need to use more lime juice or vinegar after a few days to make sure the limes are submerged. Wash and pat dry the limes and make two cuts that result in four wedges that are still attached. Generously fill each crevice with salt and place them inside a clean bottle. 

Step 3 - Preserve the salted limes in a Jar

Transfer the salted limes into a clean glass jar that’s just large enough to hold all of the limes. The goal is to have tightly packed salted limes that are covered in juice. Select a jar that truly requires packing and squeezing those limes to fit as this helps to release the juice and start the picking process. Once the limes are packed into the jar, cover tightly and set it aside in a dark place for a week. 

Step 4 - Set a Reminder and wait

Post a week, make sure all limes are tightly packed and submerged in their juice. If they’re not, press them down and add enough freshly squeezed lemon juice or vinegar to cover them. Place the jar in a cupboard, and leave the limes to cure for at least one month or for as long as a year. 

Step 5 - Prepare the pickle

lime pickle with pickled lime

Umma's Lime Pickle without Water

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)
  • 1/4 cup white vinegar 
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, chopped finely 
  • 15 garlic, chopped finely
  • 2-inch fresh ginger, chopped finely
  • 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 


Prepare the Lime Preserve
  1. Thoroughly wash the limes and let them dry completely.
  2. Quarter each lime, slicing them all the way down but leave the wedges 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 a space constraint. 
  5. Let this salted lime sit in a dark place for 7 to 8 days. This step kick starts the maceration process and softens the limes. (Updated May 2021)
  6. After 8 days the limes would have released enough juice. But to ensure they are submerged in juice, add some vinegar or more freshly squeezed lime juice and close the jar tightly. 
  7. Let this sit at room temperature, preferably in a dark place for a minimum of 30 days or more. The more it sits, the softer the lime gets.
Prepare the Pickle
  1. Heat coconut or sesame oil in a flat bottomed wide saucepan on low to medium flame.
  2. Add mustard seeds, let it splutter and then add fenugreek seeds, curry leaves and asafoetida. Saute until fragrant.
  3. Add the chopped green chillies, garlic and ginger. Saute the mixture until fragrant and ginger gets a bit soft and sticking.
  4. Add the spice powders and mix well.
  5. Add the preserved limes along with all the vinegar liquid from the bottle.
  6. 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 a boil. Do a taste test and adjust the salt before you switch off.
  7. Let it cool completely and transfer to a clean bottle with a dry spoon and store it away from moisture. 
  8. 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 it. 
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 Do serve this pickle with all my Paratha recipes like the lauki paratha or methi paratha

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


I would love to hear from you. If you have made this recipe then do leave a comment below. If you like this recipe then do share the recipe link on Whatsapp, Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest. Follow me on Instagram and mention @butfirstchaai or tag #butfirstchaai so that I can see your creations!


  1. Thanks for sharing this recipe! I cannot find a print icon?


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