Archive for the ‘pickles’ Category

This is a recipe for cucumber (timun in Malay) acha.

Some interesting pickling techniques to note here – salting overnight and weighting, for example. I don’t know much about pickling but learnt quite a few things when reading about Korean kimchee recently, and also the instructions in some macrobiotic cookbooks (pickles are an important part of the macrobiotic diet). For example, the vegetables have to be kept under the surface of the pickling liquid or else there is a chance of spoilage. However, because acha is not pickled for weeks & months, this isn’t so much of problem.

Acha Timun A

Acha Timun B

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There are no vegetables specified in the acha/achar recipes I have posted earlier, however this entry provides some guidance in this area, or simply follow the instruction to use ‘any kind of vegetable available’ :)!

Acha vegetables

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‘Achar’ is actually a Hindi/Urdu (Hindi: अचार, Urdu: اچار,) word for pickles; see here. It’s also spelt as acha, achaar, or acar in modern Malay spelling. The origins of the word also tell us about the diffusion of foods from South to Southeast Asia.

Here’s the basic barebones acha/achar recipe.


And several pages further on in the notebook, there are more acha notes:

Acha notes

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Malacca acha (achar) here, as compared to yesterday’s recipe for Penang acha.

The use of the word ‘kunit’ here for tumeric, makes me wonder if the ‘saffron water’ in the Penang acha recipe actually refers to turmeric, as saffron and turmeric are often confused with each other. Despite being both being yellow spices, they are in fact different plants.

The type of nuts are not specified, but I would guess that groundnuts or peanuts would be the type used. As with the Penang acha recipe, you are left to decide what vegetables you want to use.

Acha Malacca

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A whole series of acha (achar) recipes starting from today. We can think of acha as the local version of the pickled onions/cauliflower recipes I posted earlier.

Acha recipes labelled ‘Penang’ and ‘Malacca’, illustrate the regional differences and the very Straits Settlements-based nature of these Straits Chinese acha recipes.

The vegetables are not specified, but cucumber, carrots, cauliflower and cabbage are common ones to use for acha.

I’m not certain if ‘saffron juice’ in fact refers to the more commonly-used turmeric (kunyit), as the two are both yellow spices and often confused with each other. See my notes in the Malacca acha recipe.

Acha Penang

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These pickles recipes were inserted between a series of English dishes, the roast beef etc., so they are western-style pickles. We’ll see how they compare with local acha/achar when we get to those recipes.

“Pickling spice” is a combination of spices used for pickling, as the name indicates, but the exact combination is flexible. Nowadays, you can buy commercial packaged ‘Pickling Spice’, for example from the brand McCormick. However, I’m not sure what mixture of pickling spices this recipe intended, and I wonder if the typical combination of spices has changed since the 1950s.

I’ve wondered if these recipes are in my grandmother’s handwriting as there are several instances of other people (unidentified!) who have added recipes into the notebook. Initially, I was convinced it was someone else as the wavy underlining was uncharacteristic of my grandmother, but now on closer inspection of the various letter formations, and comparing with other recipes written with different writing instruments throughout the notebook, I do think it’s my grandmother’s handwriting after all.

Pickled Onions

Pickled Cauliflower

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