Lapsi achaar is one of the most delightful pickled fruits in Nepal. It is flavorful with hints of fenugreek, black cumin, fennel, and turmeric. Chilly and salt are also added to balance the sweetness of the fruit. Sounds great, right! In this article I will review how lapsi achaar is made in Nepal.
Lapsi (Choerospondias axillaris) is a fruit tree that grows naturally in southern and south east Asia. It is especially predominant as an agricultural commodity in Nepal and less so in other Asian countries. The tree produces gulf ball sized fruit that are sweet and sour and have a texture like mango.
In the winter the fruit ripens and are harvested by communities or food processors. The lapsi fruit are eaten raw, turned into a delicious gummy candy, and pickled. The pickling process is explained below.
Lapsi achaar is Nepali for lapsi pickle. The pickling process in Nepal is a little different than in the US. First all the fruits are boiled for about 15 minutes. The fruit will plump up and split, which makes it easy to peel.
The peeled fruits are added to a boiling mustard oil. If you try this at home, make sure you are outside or have excellent ventilation before boiling mustard oil because it will make you cough and tear up. Fenugreek, black cumin, fennel, and turmeric are added while the lapsi as its being stirred. Next salt and chili powder are added.
The resulting pickle has a water activity of 0.85, and a pH of 4. These 2 quantitative measurements predict the potential for microorganisms to spoil the food. A water activity level of 0.85 and a pH of 4 are values within the industry standard for “safe to eat.”
Himalayan food tour
If you are ever in Nepal make sure you go on a food tour, which visits different ethnic communities and samples traditionally prepared food. It is a great way to tour the country and try delicious cuisine at the same time.