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Lal Marcha nu Athanu (Chili Pickle)

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My family always had pickled marchu (peppers) around. Lal Marcha nu Athanu was a condiment at every meal. My mom would pretty much automatically add two chilies from the jar to every plate she prepared.

It’s not hard to understand why pickled marchu was so important. Can you imagine life without a refrigerator? Where do you put your milk, your leftovers, your produce? I can, because when I was a kid living in India, that wasn’t such a strange thing. I grew up in the 80s, at a time when refrigerators were just starting to be in most houses.

Oddly, our house on the farm had a refrigerator, but the one in Bombay did not. That is because in the city it was easy to get things like daily deliveries of milk and fresh produce. When it came to milk, we had milk delivered every morning.

My mom would boil it when we first got it, then again in the afternoon so we could have some with dinner. Any left over after that was turned into yogurt.

When you don’t have a refrigerator, fermentation becomes an important means of preservation. Another method of preservation is pickling. Pickling is an important part of Indian cuisine.

Chili Pickle recipe by Indiaphile.info

Chili Pickle recipe by Indiaphile.info

It goes with any kind of shaak and snacks like khandvi or dhokra. It’s like adding hot sauce to your food, but it’s the actual peppers.

If you are making this for the first time, I recommend choosing a very mild chili. The heat of any chili seems to be enhanced in the pickling process.

Chili Pickle

Lal Marcha nu Athanu (Red Chili Pickle)

An Indian pickle of hot peppers with mustard seeds and fenugreek.
5 from 2 votes
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 5 minutes
Total Time 15 minutes
Course Side Dish
Cuisine Indian
Servings 32
Calories 45 kcal


  • ½ cup olive or vegetable oil
  • ¼ cup split mustard seed rye na kuriya
  • 2 tbsp fennel seeds
  • ¼ tbsp asafoetida hing
  • 1 ½ tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp chili powder use a milder chili powder for less heat
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 3 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 pound red chilies


  • Put all of the dry ingredients in a pan with the oil, cold. Heat until fragrant, but do not allow it to reach sizzling temperature.
    Chili Pickle
  • Pour into a bowl, mix in sugar and lemon juice.
  • You can use either chopped chilies or whole chilies. If you are using whole chilies, split them open by slicing lengthwise along one side of the chili. Rub the mixture into the chilies.
  • Place the chilies and liquid in a jar. The liquid does not fill the jars.
  • Let the pickle sit at room temperature for 24-48 hours. Shake the jar a few times per day to distribute the mixture.
    Red Chili Pickle - a vibrant spicy pickle of fresh red chilies and split mustard seeds
  • Refrigerate after that. It will be good to eat for at least 2 weeks.


Serving: 2tbspCalories: 45kcalCarbohydrates: 2gProtein: 1gFat: 4gSaturated Fat: 1gPolyunsaturated Fat: 2gMonounsaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 1gSodium: 115mgPotassium: 68mgFiber: 1gSugar: 1gVitamin A: 210IUVitamin C: 21mgCalcium: 11mgIron: 1mg
Keyword mustard seeds, pickle
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Categorized as Pickle

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