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Thursday, January 1, 2015

Koli achara /Ber ka achar/Kuller Achar ( and a whiff of nostalgia )

'Koli' or 'barakoli' used to be one of my favorite fruits during the school days. I still prefer it to strawberry, raspberry, blueberry or for that matter, any other berry on this planet. Almost everything about it was so much fun. Eagerly gobbling a few of the still green ones and spitting them out in disgust, waiting for them to take on that slightly golden hue which signaled the ripening stage, throwing stones/beating the branches with long sticks to pluck the ripened berries from the tree, all accompanied with the admonishing from elders who forbid us to eat them before Saraswati Puja. Growing up in a small town like Rourkela where there were lots of 'barakoli' trees in almost every neighborhood, we surely had a great time. It was considered quite cool to snatch some berries from a neighbour's tree while the occupants of the house were having their afternoon siesta. And thankfully nobody branded a bunch of kids as 'kleptomaniacs' in those days.

Once Saraswati Puja was over, one would find the fruit being sold everywhere in the local markets. Though it was less fun as compared to savoring the first (read 'stolen') berries of the season, we still consumed them till we got stomach cramps or sometimes even a bad cough. But still these minor side effects did not deter us kids. Finally it would be time to pickle the berries. The ladies of the house would wash and dry the berries before pickling them. And we would finish more than half of the stuff even before they reached the pickling stage. So, my grandmother would pickle the remaining lot and keep it out of reach. Somehow she managed to ration the stuff so that it lasted almost the entire year. Aaah, those days were quite magical.

But these days we always buy our pickles off the supermarket shelves. Neither do they have the taste which my grandmother's pickles had nor will my kid have any such memories to hold on to. Maybe that's why I made this pickle so that he can experience some of the magic though in a much subdued manner. Here is the recipe -

Preparation Time - 15 mins (this is the coking time only, the drying process takes days)

Ingredients -

  • 250 gms koli/ber
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp fenugreek/methi seeds
  • 1/2 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp fennel/saunf seeds
  • 3-4 dry red chilis
  • 1 cup jaggery
  • 4-5 tsp mustard oil
  • 1/2 tsp salt or to taste

Preparation - Wash and clean the berries. Dry them a bit so that the surface moisture evaporates.

Crack open each one and check for insects. This is the most time consuming part but one has to be careful while doing it.

Sprinkle turmeric and a little salt on the berries. Mix thoroughly and sun dry for 3-4 days.

Cooking - Dry roast the mustard, fenugreek and fennel seeds. Once cool, grind them into a powder.

Separately dry roast the red chilis and cumin seeds. Once cool, grind them into a powder.

Heat the oil in a wok. Add the jaggery and the red chili-cumin powder. Sprinkle a few teaspoons of water. Once the jaggery melts and starts bubbling, add the dried berries. 

Cook for 2-3 minutes or till the jaggery thickens. Remove from flame and sprinkle the mustard-fenugreek-fennel seed powder and mix thoroughly.

Allow to cool down completely before bottling it up. Stays good for an year or even longer (that is if you can control the urge to gobble it up).

Note - Some people also prefer to make this pickle by cooking the dried berries in jaggery to which some chili powder has been added and finally adding a tempering of pancha-phutana or panch-phoran at the end.

Pancha-phutana or panch-phoran is a mix of mustard, cumin, fenugreek, nigella and fennel seeds in equal proportion. It is very frequently used in Odia and Bengali cuisine.


  1. Wow koli achar bahut tasty dekhiba ko lagi chhi. Looking very tasty and mouth watring

  2. How to make khatta meetha koli achar? can you share the tips and tricks with us? If you know how to make khattta meetha mango pickle then please share with us too..


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