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  • Writer's picture Payal M.

Mum's Chili Pickles in Lemon Juice

Updated: Sep 16, 2023

You know, when moving to the US over 20 years ago, I thought I would never forget a single thing from my life in Fiji. I refused to forget and told myself that I never would. I clung to those memories pretty desperately and it definitely got me through the difficulties we faced when we moved to the US. But 20 years is a long time and now we have tons of good memories here. Without even realizing it, time slowly dulled those old memories of growing up in Fiji. So much to my surprise, I recently and randomly remembered today's recipe of Mum's Chili Pickles in Lemon Juice. I was very surprised. First because I forgot about it and secondly because I remembered it just now. Lol. And with this recipe so many other memories came flooding back. Food is amazing like that. Quite simply it connects you with home.

Naming this dish was a bit of struggle for me. Sometimes the English translations does not sound very appetizing. But do not be misled by the name. These pickles are ultra delicious and so easy to make. I don't eat that much spicy food anymore due to my health but I promptly asked my Mum if we could make this recipe next. Think my whole family remembers loving it and I even overheard my dad saying it was one of his favorites. Like I said, food creates amazing connections. So anyways, these chili pickles get super juicy over time and you can use this to enhance any dish really. I definitely like to use it over Mum's Classic Dhal . It adds just the right amount of tang, spiciness and gives any dish that extra kick!

Jump to Recipe

The recipe is super quick. You will need lemons, chilis of choice, mustard seeds and curry leaves (optional). We like to clean and wash the chilies and dry them in the sun for about an hour but you can wash and use the chilies immediately as well. You can also make small slices in each chili if you wish for quicker permeation of the lemon juice. Next step is to heat up some vegetable oil. It is important that the oil gets hot and then you add the mustard seeds and curry leaves. At this point, lots of sputtering and splattering will occur so be careful at this point. Then add your freshly squeezed lemon juice. Let this mix come to a boil and then add salt.

Bring down to simmer and then remove from heat. Let the cooked lemon juice cool down before using it.

Once it is cooled down ( a little warm is ok), then you can add this lemon juice to the chilies and that is it! Adjust the salt at this point if you wish. You have now made Mum's Chili Pickles in Lemon Juice! Store the chili pickles in an airtight container. The chilies will float in the juice at first but over time will slowly absorb the juice and sink. You can use the chilis right away or after overnight storage. Use this over any dish really but definitely enhances any Indian dish that you can think of!

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Time 1 hour

Serves a crowd


1 cup Thai chillies

2 cups freshly squeezed lemon juice

2 tbsp vegetable oil

1 tsp mustard seeds

1 stem of curry leaves optional

1 tbsp salt plus extra


  1. Clean and wash chilies. Sun dry for 1 hour.

  2. Clean and squeeze about 6 lemons to make 2 cups of lemon juice.

  3. Heat up oil on medium heat.

  4. Once hot, add mustard seeds and curry leaves. Be careful of the splattering.

  5. Add lemon juice and bring to a boil.

  6. Add salt. Reduce heat to a simmer.

  7. Remove from heat and allow to cool down.

  8. Once cooled, add cooked lemon juice to dried chilies. At this point you can add more salt as per your taste.

  9. Store in an airtight container. Can be kept in the fridge for several weeks.


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