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Amla Aachaar with Saunf (Indian Gooseberry Pickle with Fennel Seeds)

Amla, also known as Indian gooseberry, is a deliciously sour fruit that can be had in many ways. It can be eaten grated, cut into pieces, made into jams, added to smoothies, or dried and powdered. One of the most popular ways of getting the rich nutrients in it is through pickling it in oil, especially mustard oil. Amla is rich in vitamin C, which is a great antioxidant, and it retains this vitamin to a great extent even on cooking it. It is also rich in other vitamins and minerals that help maintain the shine in hair and makes your skin look radiant. It has numerous anti-ageing properties and is said to be a super food for cancer patients as it kills cancer cells but leaves normal cells alone. It helps in reducing cholesterol levels, inflammation and aids blood thinning as well as reduces artery stiffening. It also helps in reducing nausea, bloating, belching, and acidity, decreases the stress on the heart, and helps reverse diabetes. So, it is a great addition to your diet. Ajwain, yellow mustard, methi seeds, and turmeric are all very beneficial for health as they are said to aid in relieving indigestion, help reduce cholesterol, fight bacteria and fungi, combat peptic ulcers and cough, and are anti-inflammatory. Known for its strong flavor, pungent aroma, and high smoke point, it’s often used for sautéing and stir-frying vegetables in many parts of the world especially in West Bengal in India. Pure mustard oil has a high smoke point and comprises mostly of monounsaturated fats, which are more resistant to heat-induced degradation than polyunsaturated fats. Some studies have found that mustard oil possesses powerful antimicrobial properties and may help block the growth of certain types of harmful bacteria and fungus and is sometimes applied to the feet to help heal cracked skin on the heels. It may also slow cancer cell growth and is said to help heart health because of the high content of monounsaturated fatty acids in it, a type of unsaturated fat found in foods like nuts, seeds, and plant-based oils. But after all, it is still an oil and is not advised on a Whole-Food Plant-Based diet, so it is best to have it in very limited quantities and only occasionally.

Recipe Credit: Darshana Muzumdar

Lasts 6 months


  • 500 gm Amla or Indian Gooseberry (12-15 numbers depending on the size)
  • 4 tsp rock salt or other unrefined salt
  • 1 cup mustard oil
  • ¼ tsp hing (asafoetida)
  • 2 tsp methi (fenugreek) seeds (use 1 tsp if you don’t enjoy the bitterness of the seeds)
  • 1 tsp ajwain (carom seeds/ajowan caraway/bishop’s weed)   
  • 4 tsp yellow mustard dal or seeds
  • 2 tsp saunf (fennel) powder (+ 2-3 tsp whole fennel if you enjoy the taste of fennel)
  • 2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 4 tsp Kashmiri chilli powder or 1 tsp if you use a spicier variety


Wash all the amla and place them in a thick bottomed steel pot. Add 1 cup water and bring to a boil. Turn down the heat and cover the pot. Cook for around 10 minutes or enough till they are soft enough to remove the ‘petals’ or ‘wedges’ of each. Remove the amla onto a plate and let them cool enough for you to handle them. Remove all the pits and separate each petal of the amlas. Add the salt to these pieces to let it dissolve as rock salt takes long to dissolve in oil. Heat the mustard oil till smoking point and immediately turn off the heat. Cool the oil enough to ensure that there is no more smoke rising from it. Add the hing, methi seeds, and ajwain to the relatively hot oil. Sauté for about 5-10 seconds. Add the amla petals into the oil. The oil will sizzle a little when you do that. Mix well and add the rest of the ingredients: yellow mustard dal, saunf powder, whole saunf if you are using it, turmeric, and red chilli powder. Mix well so that all the amla pieces are coated with all the spices. Cool it completely before filling it in a completely dry airtight jar. This pickle is ready to eat but it is tastier if you let it rest for at least 3 to 4 days for the amla to absorb the flavours.

Note: The oil is brought to smoking point to remove the strong pungent flavour.

Always use a fresh dry spoon to remove pickle from the jar. Any kind of moisture will spoil the pickle.

Though mustard oil has some benefits, it is still an oil and should be consumed in small quantities.

This dish is not Whole-Food Plant-Based because of the use of oil.

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