Look, there are two ways to go about making killer Indian-style pickles. One is by making a custom blend of spices every time, and the other is to whip up some perfectly balanced achar ka masala and have it on hand to make quick hyper-flavorful pickles any time you want.
My family and I are Indian pickle obsessed, and we get super-excited every time we find a new pickle style throughout India, where we spend as much time as we can.
Get ready to speed up your pickle-making process with this handy spice blend!
🥰Why you are going to adore the ever-loving heck outta this recipe
🌱 Fresher and more customizable: This Achari Masala recipe allows you to create a spice blend that’s tailored to your taste, ensuring fresher, more vibrant flavors than store-bought alternatives. Plus, it’s 100% vegan, and has no preservatives, and no gluten.
Pure & Sattvic: This pickle spice does not contain onions or garlic, making it suitable for use in recipes that will become bhoga offerings, and it is also ekadasi-friendly, containing no grains or legumes.
⏱️ Quick as a Cat: With straightforward instructions and minimal cleanup, you’ll have this Indian spice blend ready to upgrade your pickles within a few minutes.
✅ Tested and Approved Worldwide: Like all of my recipes, this achar masala blend has been rigorously tested by a global team of recipe testers. Whether you’re in New Jersey, New Delhi, or a new planet in the solar system where you have to pickle mangoes, rest assured that this recipe will work seamlessly with various ingredient brands and equipment.
🌶️ Notable ingredients and substitutions
Ajwain seeds, also known as carom seeds, hail from India and are a staple in many Indian dishes, such as my Sukha Kala Chana and Arbi Ki Sabji. These seeds have a distinct flavor, combining the notes of thyme and cumin. In this recipe, ajwain seeds add a warm, earthy aroma and a hint of bitterness, balancing the spice blend. If you don’t have ajwain seeds on hand, you can substitute them with a 1:1 ratio of caraway seeds.
Kalonji, are also called nigella seeds, black cumin, and black caraway. They are tiny black seeds with a slightly nutty, peppery flavor. They originate from South Asia and are a crucial ingredient in almost all Indian pickles, except amla ka achar. If you can’t find kalonji, you can substitute it with a combination of equal parts black sesame seeds and cumin seeds for a sorta similar flavor.
Amchur, or dried mango powder, comes from green, unripe mangoes (aka “raw mango”) and is cherished for its tangy, fruity essence. It brings a sourness without adding liquid to dishes like when making masala phool makhana, and is a key ingredient in the chaat masala used in shakarkandi ki chaat. If you don’t have amchur, you can substitute it with a mix of lemon zest and sumac for a similar taste kick.
Asafetida, sometimes referred to as hing, is a unique spice with a pungent, onion-garlic flavor. Originating from Afghanistan, it’s commonly used in Indian cuisine, especially in dishes where onions and garlic aren’t used like sattvic masoor dal, and peerkangai kootu. If asafetida isn’t in your pantry, you can replace it with an equal amount of garlic or onion powder for a similar flavor profile, though it won’t be identical.
*See the recipe card at the bottom of the page for exact quantities, nutritional info, and detailed cooking directions.
🔥Fiery Achar ka Masala: For those who crave extra heat, consider adding a hotter chili powder such as cayenne pepper to your Achar ka Masala mix. You can also use a coarse powder like gochugaru, or for more heat, use crushed red pepper flakes containing seeds. I like a super-hot mix like this for making mango pickle.
🍭Sweet and Tangy Achar ka Masala: Some veggies you might pickle have more of a flat taste, such as parval or bottle gourd. Add a little jaggery or brown sugar and a touch more amchur to this masala blend to help intensify the flavor of those pickles. A little dried kasuri methi is nice here too.
📖 How to make the perfect pickle masala blend
Have instant pickles on tap by following these step-by-step instructions with important tips. Or you can follow along with the easy-to-print recipe card towards the bottom of this page.
Dry Roast and Cool:
In a dry skillet or frying pan, lightly toast the fennel, brown mustard, fenugreek, cumin, coriander, kalonji, and ajwain seeds. This will take approximately 2-3 minutes, and you’ll know they’re ready when their fragrance fills the air.
Transfer the toasted seeds to a plate and let them cool to room temperature. Ensuring they are thoroughly cooled will maintain the desired flavor profile.
Combine and Grind:
Place the cooled, toasted seeds in your spice grinder or high-speed blender.
Add the Kashmiri red chili powder, salt, turmeric powder, asafetida, and amchur to the mix.
Process the mixture until it becomes a finely ground powder. The texture should be smooth and evenly blended.
Store for Later Use:
Once you’ve achieved the desired consistency, allow the Achar ka Masala to cool completely before transferring it into an airtight jar for storage.
Indian pickles made with this masala are incredibly versatile and can be paired with a variety of dishes to enhance their flavors. For a comforting meal, serve them with dals like chana dal, or arhar dal tadka over rice dishes like Turmeric Rice, Biryani, Fragrant Basmati Pilau, or Coconut Rice.
When it comes to sabjis (vegetable dishes), pickles make the meal more flavorful and also more digestible. Consider serving Indian pickles alongside dishes like Saag Aloo (spinach and potato), Chana Masala, Dry Bhindi (okra), Aviyal (South Indian mixed vegetable stew), Olan, or Turai Sabji (ridge gourd).
Balance of Spices: I like to think that the blend I created for this recipe is perfect, but of course, everyone has different tastes according to their karma and samsara’s from the past! Feel free to tweak the quantities of each spice in your Achar ka Masala until you find the flavor profile that suits your taste buds. Start with small adjustments and taste as you go.
Proper Toasting: This is maybe the most important thing: toasting the whole spices is a critical step. Be vigilant while toasting to avoid burning them; you want them fragrant, not scorched. Allow them to cool completely before grinding to preserve the flavors.
Cool Before Storage: Ensure your Achar ka Masala is completely cooled before storing it in an airtight jar. This helps maintain its freshness and prevents moisture from affecting the spice blend.
When stored in an airtight container in a cool, dry place, it can remain fresh for up to 6 months.
If you want to extend its shelf life, you can refrigerate it and it will maintain its flavor and potency for about a year.
In addition to pickles, achar ka masala can make a nice flavor booster to have on hand to use in rice, dal, sabji, and even chaats.
Yes, you can! Simply modify the amount of amchur (dried mango powder) to control the tanginess to your liking. Personally, I think extra tanginess is nice in pickles as it helps perk up the flavor of what you serve them with.
✌️My faves to serve Indian pickles with:
❤️Love this recipe? It helps me out greatly if you leave a 5-star 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟rating in the recipe card below and maybe even leave me a lovey-dovey comment too!
Achar ka masala (Indian pickle spice blend)
- Lightly toast the fennel, mustard, fenugreek, cumin, coriander, kalonji, and ajwain seeds in a dry skillet for 2-3 mins over medium heat until fragrant. Transfer to a plate, so that the spices stop cooking, and cool them completely to room temperature.
- Place cooled seeds in a high-speed blender, or a spice grinder. Add the remaining spices. Process to a fine powder. You may need to process them in a couple of batches depending on the size of your blender or spice grinder.
- After achieving the desired consistency, cool Achar ka Masala to room temperature, and store it in a labeled airtight jar.