KATHMANDU: While having the dal-bhat-tarkari one definitely wants to have some achaar (pickle). For many it is quite impossible to even swallow one spoonful of rice without achaar.
The varieties of achaar available in the market will definitely make your mouth water.
Get at Behind Sundhara you will notice a small store named VIP Achar Centre displaying various kinds of achaars in big glass bottles and the colours of achaar will definitely catch your eye. And if the shopkeeper opens the cover of the bottles, then the spicy aroma can make your mouth go watery.
Here you can find around 60 varieties of achaar and according to Vishma Shanker Chettri, owner of the VIP Achar Centre, it has been 25 years since he has been dealing in achaar. Chettri adds, “These achaars are all imported from various places of India like Lucknow, Benaras, Rajasthan and more. Each kind comes in a tin of 15 litres and I sell them in grams. These achaars come from a small cottage industry.”
Likewise, at Bhedasingh in a store of ayurvedic medicine owned by 70-year-old Man Mohan Sharma, named Banaras Achar Centre, you will find varieties of achaar displayed. Sharma informs, “I have 25 varieties of achaar and some of them are from Benaras and some are Nepal-made brought from Kalimati.”
The range of achaar starts from lemon, mango, chilli, bitter gourd, cauliflower, garlic, ginger, radish, carrot, methi (fenugreek), tama (bamboo shoots), and the list goes on where each type of achaar is mixed in numerous aromatic spices for the flavour and taste.
At Shree Krishna VIP Achar Centre you can find not only achaar but also murrabaas (sweet sour jam pickle) all made in their own factory situated at Malangwa, Sarlahi. Here you can have 52 varieties of achaar and 12 varieties of murrabaas. You can get carrot murrabaas, sugarcane murrabaas, mango murrabaas, bamboo murrabaas, bel murrabaas and so on.
Owner Kishan Kumar Sah shares, “The most popular achaars are mixed, chilli, mango, methi and khatimithi.”
Even though these achaars are sold open, all the storekeepers claimed that it can be stored from six months to two years looking at the nature of the vegetable or fruit. However, Sharma reminds, “You should not directly touch them with your hand and must use a clean spoon while serving. For daily use, it is better to buy in small quantity than in large quantities and store.”
Agreeing with him a regular customer since five years, Sulochana Rawal at Sundhara explains, “These should not be bought in large quantity and a few of them have chemicals as well for preservation. So it’s better to eat in small quantity.”
Moreover, Sah says, “It is better to keep them in air tight plastic or glass bottles to prevent them from getting spoiled.”
If you are thinking of discounts in these stores, you would be disappointed but the taste you get to savour will definitely satisfy you. The price is fixed in all the stores and about the storing and date of expiry of the achaar, Chettri claims, “We import according to the need and thus maintain the quality of achaar.”
Another customer Sharada Poudel at Chettri’s store says, “This is the first time I am buying this kind of achaar as I am not a fan of hot and sour taste. But I liked the lemon achaar which is healthy as it is marinated only in salt and water whereas I have heard certain chemicals are used for the colour of the achaar which is not healthy.”
Moreover, Sharma opines, “In the rainy season, when it is off season for vegetables, these kinds of achaar serves you well. And achaars are
consumed more in the summer and monsoon seasons when one is not willing to eat their meal.”