while pretty much on the mild side when first made, over the span of two to four weeks, these will intensify to the point where a little will go a long way. in other words, they become hot, hot, hot. the combination of red hot chillies and cracked mustard seeds really heat things up but not so much as to make it unpalatable, in any sense. if you like hot, then this is for you. they are also tart and crunchy due to the addition of lemon juice and very short cooking time.
as with many north indian pickled vegetables, they are preserved in mustard oil. there are several brands available however many are now mixed with other oils and are considered as "blends". often, on the bottles, you will notice that it says 'for external use only'. at one point, there was a problem with the production of this oil where it is said that some corrupt manufacturers mixed it with other oils which were not fit for human consumption. it has become controversial and many countries put 'for external use only' on the bottles to avoid problems. the brand i use is "ktc" (from the UK) and works well for the following pickle.
mustard oil also has to be heated to smoking point very briefly before being used. if all this is "too much" for you, stick with vegetable oil :) just don't do the 'bring to smoking point' part of it. the other necessary ingredients like asafetida and brown mustard seeds are items you'll need to get from a store which sells indian food products.
hot north indian-style carrot pickles
1 lb carrots (~4 large carrots)
1 tbsp (kosher) coarse salt
1 tbsp crushed brown mustard seeds
1/2 tsp ground asafetida
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
whole red chillies, enough to make 1 1/2 tbsp crushed
1/3 c lemon juice
1/2 - 2/3 c mustard oil (i use ktc)
carefully wash and dry a glass jar that will be appropriate to store your pickles in. it must be perfectly clean and dry to prevent contamination or spoilage.
peel and cut carrots into 2 1/2 inch lengths and then into a little less than 1/2 inch wedges or sticks. set aside. do not cut them too thinly as they will cook through and be soft — you want a crisp pickle, not a cooked soft one.
grind the brown mustard seeds until they are coarsely powdered. place in a small bowl.
take the chilies and break them and remove the seeds. crush them with your hands or in a mortar. they should be coarsely crushed and not powdered.
measure out the asafetida and juice the lemon.
make sure to have everything ready as the recipe goes very quickly and you may chance cooking the carrots too much if you have to stop and measure.
place the salt, turmeric, chillies, mustard seed and carrots in a medium sized bowl and mix them all together well.
on medium high heat, place the mustard oil in your wok or khadhai or cooking 'vessel'. you must heat the mustard oil to the point where it is only just starting to smoke. this is absolutely necessary so do not avoid this step. it is only ever used for mustard oil.
add the asafetida and stir quickly. add the carrots and all the spices in the bowl.
stir fry this for only 1 minute.
add the lemon juice and stir fry for another 2 minutes only. do not exceed this time or you may risk cooking your carrots.
remove the carrots from the heat and pack them in the clean jar and cover with all the liquid from the pan.
let cool completely in the jar and cover.
the pickles need to sit for about 4 to 5 days. shake twice a day until ready to eat.
as they age, they get hotter and hotter.
store in the fridge and only use a dry clean fork to remove them. they will mould if they come into contact with water.