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Photo of a bowl of Indian lime pickle or nimbu ka achaar
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5 from 12 votes

Indian Lime Pickle

If you are a fan of probiotic foods, you will love this spicy Indian lime pickle or nimbu achaar. It is filled with good-for-your-gut bacteria and tastes amazing served with a simple Indian meal of dal and rice. Plus, it couldn't be easier to make, especially when you have the hot summer sun playing sous chef.
Prep Time15 minutes
Cook Time5 minutes
Fermenting period5 days
Total Time5 days 20 minutes
Course: Condiment
Cuisine: Indian
Diet: Gluten Free, Vegan, Vegetarian
Servings: 50 servings (approx)
Calories: 42kcal



  • 8 medium-large limes (make sure they are as thin skinned as possible. Wash and dry the limes thoroughly. Quarter or cut them into ½-inch pieces.)
  • 2 teaspoon fenugreek seeds
  • 2 teaspoon nigella seeds (kalonji)
  • 1 tablespoon fennel seeds (saunf)
  • 2 (heaping) tbsp cayenne (or paprika or Kashmiri chili powder)
  • 1 tablespoon turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon asafetida (hing)
  • ¼ to ½ cup salt (I use Himalayan pink salt but any finely ground salt is fine. You can use more for saltier pickles. Don't use less because you need the salt as a preservative for the pickles)
  • 1 cup vegetable oil (mustard oil is preferred, but any vegetable oil that can withstand high temperatures without burning, like peanut oil, safflower oil, canola oil and sunflower oil, will work.)
  • 2 tablespoon mustard seeds


  • Heat a skillet over medium heat. Add the fenugreek, fennel and nigella seeds to the skillet and toast until very fragrant, 3-5 minutes. Remove to a bowl, let them cool, then add asafetida and powder everything together in a spice grinder or blender.
  • Place the limes in a clean, dry glass or ceramic bowl. Add the ground spices in step 1 along with the paprika or cayenne, turmeric, asafetida and salt. Mix well with a clean, dry spoon.
  • Heat the oil in the same skillet you used to toast the spices. Once it's hot, add the mustard seeds. Wait until they begin to sputter, then turn off the heat.
  • Carefully, standing back a little, pour the hot oil into the bowl with the limes and spices. Mix thoroughly, then transfer to the sterilized mason jar.
  • Place the mason jar in the hot, full sun on your deck, porch or stoop for 5-7 days, for at least 6-8 hours each day. Turn the mason jar upside down and around each day to ensure the sauce and spices move around the jar.
  • Once the pickle is ready, refrigerate immediately.


Calories: 42kcal | Carbohydrates: 1g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 5g | Saturated Fat: 4g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 566mg | Potassium: 11mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 17IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 4mg | Iron: 1mg