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30 April 2015 / leggypeggy

Three walls of pickles—my kind of heaven

pickle store and owner

The shop owner adds labels to the jars

Pickles of all kinds are at the top of my food chain, and I’m happy to eat ’em, cook ’em, make ’em, mix ’em, steal ’em, promote ’em.

One of my favourite sandwiches—I have no idea how, when or where I learned this recipe—is good bread with thinly-sliced dill pickles and a generous spread of peanut butter. Go on, try it. You might love it as much as Poor John and I do.

Poor John used to tease me about this unusual combo until the day I sent him off to work with that exact mix in his lunchbox. That was when I was still making his lunch (a service that didn’t last much longer).

He came home raving about how delicious it was. Duh, he could have believed me from the outset, but I had to prove it sneakily.

So you can imagine how thrilled I was to discover Pickle Heaven (not its real name) in Kalimpong, West Bengal, India. This was serious pickle-dom, and the woman who runs the place makes all—well almost all—the pickles herself.

All kinds of vegetables, chillies and meat are done up in various sizes of glass jars and plastic packaging, and all crammed into a narrow shop on Kalimpong’s main street.

Obviously, I wasn’t going to buy anything to take home. Glass and liquid aren’t good travelling companions, and Australia’s quarantine regulations prevent many foodstuffs from being brought into the country.

But I was determined to buy/try some. The owner graciously offered to open jars to let me try, but I had a better idea.

When India and Australia were facing off in the semifinals of the ICC Cricket World Cup. Anand and I promised to buy a present as a consolation prize for the loser. Not only did Australia beat India in that game, we won the entire competition. Sorry New Zealand, because we wouldn’t have minded if you’d won because it was the first time ever that New Zealand made it to the finals.

The whole cricket competition was over and I still owed Anand his present. How about I take you to Kalimpong’s pickle emporium and buy you five kinds of pickles—your pick?

He couldn’t believe there’d be five kinds of pickles he actually wanted, but then he walked into the place.

Anand may be Indian, but he’s not vegetarian. And there, on the shelves, he found jars and bags of goodies such as pickled beef, pickled chicken and pickled pork. Choosing his five ‘prizes’ was too easy and I bet he’ll shop there the next time he’s in Kalimpong.

If you’re a fan of pickles, chutneys and sambols, you might like the mint sambol recipe on my cooking blog.

On a sad note, Kalimpong is close to Nepal and the devastating earthquake that hit there earlier this week. Three people are confirmed dead in West Bengal and some buildings have collapsed. I can’t imagine the shelves of pickles fared well.

pickles galore

A wall of pickles

31 Comments

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  1. Gary Walker / Apr 30 2015 2:51 pm

    I love pickled eggs and pickled okra and pickled pickle. All things pickled.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Gary Walker / Apr 30 2015 3:17 pm

    Pickled eggs aren’t as awful as they sound. Give them a go. ❤

    Like

    • leggypeggy / Apr 30 2015 4:12 pm

      I love pickled eggs. I just need to remember to make them.

      Like

  3. Gary Walker / Apr 30 2015 3:19 pm

    The bummer is it takes weeks before they are ready. Patience is a virtue.

    Like

  4. Jane / Apr 30 2015 3:35 pm

    Having a German grandmother, I was exposed to pickled treats early in life. She always made her own. Sadly, I am allergic to peanuts so I can’t try your suggested taste sensation. However, my daughter loves dill pickles and can eat peanut butter so I will get her to try it. Sounds very odd but I’ve been surprised by some other weird combinations before that taste fantastic. Thanks for sharing the pickled delights. 🙂

    Like

    • leggypeggy / Apr 30 2015 4:17 pm

      My pleasure Jane. Pity you can’t try the combo, but let me know what your daughter thinks.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Dorothy / Apr 30 2015 4:56 pm

    What an amazing shop, I do hope it survived the quake. If she has salvaged enough to re-open she should drill little holes in the uprights of her shelves and thread wire through about half way up the jar height. She will still be able to lift the jars off but not lose more with every aftershock. Tried it, in shaky city Christchurch.

    dorothysstories.wordpress.com

    >

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Apr 30 2015 5:21 pm

      That’s a brilliant idea Dorothy, and from someone with too much first-hand experience. I’ll tell Anand to pass on the idea.

      Like

  6. suchled / Apr 30 2015 6:59 pm

    I don’t mean to be rude, but stop it!
    I love pickled mushrooms. But my famil;y won’t even let me pick the little darlings out of the paddock.
    It’s all right if they are bought from Coles (the bastards) or from Woolies ( the mongrel Bastards) but don’t you dare pick them out of your own ten acre paddock.

    Like

    • leggypeggy / Apr 30 2015 9:17 pm

      You come to Canberra and we’ll go mushroom picking. We know some good spots.

      Like

  7. jeanettev2014 / Apr 30 2015 7:28 pm

    Oh Peggy how I would love to shop here!!! So did you also go through the earthquake?

    Like

    • leggypeggy / Apr 30 2015 9:19 pm

      We missed the quake. My heart is breaking for the people of Nepal and northern India. Such horrendous devastation.

      Like

  8. Midwestern Plant Girl / Apr 30 2015 8:43 pm

    I would have gone nuts trying all of these gifts from heaven! I love many pickled things. These fermented jewels are great for your gut flora. My asparagus is just coming up. .. guess what I do with those? Pickle ’em!

    Like

    • leggypeggy / Apr 30 2015 9:20 pm

      I could have bought one of everything just to try them.

      Like

  9. JunkChuck / May 1 2015 12:50 am

    Wow. I just don’t know what to say beyond that. Just, wow.

    Like

  10. afterthelasttime / May 1 2015 1:37 am

    Beautiful photos and wonderful story!

    Like

  11. Curious to the Max / May 1 2015 2:17 am

    You brought back memories of Mother Goose!

    Peggy picked a peck of pickled peppers;
    A peck of pickled peppers Peggy picked;
    If Peggy picked a peck of pickled peppers,
    Where’s the peck of pickled peppers Peggy picked?

    Answer: Peggy ate the peck of pickled pepper with peanut butter.

    Like

    • leggypeggy / May 1 2015 7:08 am

      Busted. You’re right. I ate them and I’m not sorry. 🙂

      Like

  12. wineandhistory / May 1 2015 1:51 pm

    I love pickles! That place sounds awesome – I’ve been thinking so much about those poor souls and everything they are going through.

    Like

    • leggypeggy / May 1 2015 3:48 pm

      I can’t stop thinking about those poor souls and wishing there was more I could do to help in addition to sending money.

      Liked by 1 person

  13. Sy S. / May 7 2015 10:51 am

    Peggy,

    I enjoyed my visit to Nepal 40 years ago and now all the destruction and lives lost…. Also, in Northern India and China to some extent. A large part of their national income comes from Mr. Everest enthusiasts/ climbers, hikers, tourists… But the hard part now is to find shelter, food and water for thousands.. and treat the injured!!!

    OK pickles… I love sour pickles/tomatoes/garden vegetables, BIG TIME! The colorful jars, did have meat pickles and I am not sure if I would like that or super hot pickle vegetables. Anyway, I love your blog subject lines and most of the time, learn something. And then by Googling learn more ! So here is a good example about Pickled Products in India (and I guess Pakistan/ Bangladesh); http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Indian_pickles

    Sy S.

    Like

    • leggypeggy / May 7 2015 12:32 pm

      Thanks for that link Sy. My favourite Indian one is lime pickle. It has a nice kick, but not too hot.

      And yes, I always try to add something a little useful or interesting to every blog post. Must hark back to my previous lives as a teacher and a reporter.

      Like

  14. bmpermie / May 16 2015 3:10 am

    I always find it hard to be in such a shop and not to be able to buy as a traveler. Of course I am still drawn to such shops. I hope you breathe in the aromas even if they are in jars.

    Like

    • leggypeggy / May 16 2015 8:30 am

      We’ve eaten pickles all over India, so I can’t pretend to be deprived. And I’ve been inspired o make some at home too.

      Like

  15. yeahanotherblogger / May 16 2015 10:31 pm

    This is a fine article.
    I too am a pickle lover. I haven’t had many pickles outside of the USA, though.

    Like

    • leggypeggy / May 17 2015 8:45 pm

      Thanks for stopping by. If you love pickles like I do, try searching for simple recipes. Pickles are so easy to make, so have fun exploring.

      Like

  16. Rashminotes / Feb 12 2016 3:07 pm

    Cool Peggy, you have seen so much of India:) I love pickles too!

    Liked by 1 person

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