Non-Veg Novelty

Posted on 2009-05-17
Chicken, mutton, fish, and crab are relished in a variety of palatable dishes prepared either in hotels or at home. But the fact that there are many types of pickles in all these varieties is not known to many. Our metros possess gourmet shops selling these delicacies and one such shop in the city of Mumbai has eighty varieties of such non-vegetarian pickles. The Indian pickle market was worth a thousand crore rupees in 2007. It is growing at eight per cent per annum and out of this nearly non-veg pickles take one-third of the entire quantity in kilos. But non-veg pickles are nearly twice as costly as the vegetarian ones, so its share in the value realised is almost the same as the more well known vegetarian pickles.
The art of making non-vegetarian pickles dates back hundreds of years. There are numerous varieties of non-veg pickles and each family makes its own version. Pickles go with everything - rice, bread, fish, roast beef, sandwiches, grilled chicken, meat, pappadums and even tortilla chips. Besides they add an extra dimension to the meal and make it more enjoyable. The difference in preparation of non-veg pickles in different parts of India lies in the oil base, souring agent and choice of spices. Mustard oil is a popular pickling medium in the north while gingelly or sesame seed oil (and sometimes groundnut oil) are used in the south.
The type of non-veg pickles vary from region to region. Haji Gulam Qadir Sunoo, a 64-year-old resident of Srinagar, has come to be known as ‘the pickle man of Jammu and Kashmir’. He has prepared more than a hundred varieties of non-vegetarian pickles of chicken, mutton and fish. Demand for non-veg pickles goes up in the winter, when the national highway connecting Jammu and Kashmir with the rest of the country is blocked and people face a major shortage of vegetables His outlet in Srinagar is the sole one, that sells scrumptious fish pickle.
From Kashmir to Kerala where the favourite non-veg pickle is that of kalamakai - a kind of mussel that has a peculiar tangy flavour, not present in other kinds of shellfish. Kalamakai pickle-making is a huge industry in Kerala, but as the harvest of these mussels vary from season to season, local pickle makers substitute it with Kerala sardines/local mackerel and of course prawns.
Further up in the west coast, Goans have their own prawn pickle known as balchao. Cooked with a generous helping of dried red chillies, this is a Goan delicacy you have to try out when in Goan. This pickle has in it kolim - a kind of tiny prawn - and masala with peppercorns, haldi and lots of garlic. Just like the Goans, the east Indians (Roman Catholic ethnic group, based in and around the city of Mumbai) make balchao but the spices and preparation are slightly different. Goans use fresh masalas, palm jaggery and mild Kashmiri mirch. East Indians use dried bottle masala, cane jaggery and deghi mirch. When it comes to pork pickles, Goans put green chillies, fenugreek seeds, mustard seeds, garlic, ginger and vinegar and makes sure the meat has some layers of fat.
The Parsis boast that the Parsi prawn pickle has a stronger punch than the Goan variety. But the Parsi pomfret pickle invariably is saturated with masala. They use oil to cook their pickles and the criteria for their chicken pickle is that it should become a paste within six months of preparation, if well made. Zenobia Schroff, a Parsi pickle-maker is well known in Mumbai. Her prawn pickle is cooked in a masala of curry leaves, mustard, fenugreek, cumin and garlic in organic vinegar.
Non-veg pickles, once a traditional household art, has now become a commercial venture. As per the available data, there are about twelve major units which are manufacturing fish/prawn pickles in India. The major market for fish pickles are Goa, Mumbai, Kochi, Mangalore, Bangalore, New Delhi, Calcutta, Nagaland and Mizoram. Further, there is also a potential for export to countries where NRI’s await their favourite non-veg pickles. MF