Festive season has begun. During Dashain and Tihar, Gadeko Kankro ko Achaar (Pickled cucumber), also known as Khalpi, is one of the most have dish, and has become part of our festive food culture. The pickle is made from local variety of cucumber called Bhadaure Kankro, which has thick brown rustic skin when fully ripe. It is harvested in the months of Bhadra, Asoj and Kartik (August, September and October). It is normally large in size, and can weighs up to 5 kg or more. Nepali people generally make them at least 4-5 days before the main festival days, to provide ample of time to ferment or pickle, and eat them together with other food items (Masu, Chiura, Sel). While these festivals are generally observed by over consumption of varieties of delicacies including meat, this pickled cucumber helps in digestion.
Here is a very simple way of making the pickle. You need a clean sterile glass jars for storing pickle.
1 medium size Bhadaure Kankro
10 Dalle Khursani (Round Chilies) or a handful Green/Red Chilies
½ cup Yellow Mustard or Sarso (very coarsely ground)
½ tbs Cumin Powder
½ tbs Coriander Powder
1 tbs Red Chili Powder
1 tsp Turmeric Powder
1 tsp Fenugreek Seed
1 tbs Salt (or according to your taste)
½ cup Vegetable Oil (preferable non-refined mustard oil)
Wash the cucumber with clean water and let it dry. Cut the whole cucumber into elongated slices (around 6-8 based on the girth) and remove the soft pulp parts using knife. Store the juicy pulp in a bowl for making salad later.
Make incisions every 0.5 cm interval in the soft flesh and cut it into large chunk in every 3-4 cm as show in the picture below. These incisions help in quick drawing of moisture from the cucumber chunks and also absorbing spices inside. Also cut the chilies into almost half to help releasing the heat during pickling.
Dry the cucumber chunks and chilies in the direct sunlight for one or two days to drain some moisture out. This helps last the pickle longer and retains nice crunchy texture.
In a large bowl, add the partially sun-dried cucumber and chilies, coarsely ground yellow mustard, coriander powder, cumin powder, red chili powder and salt, and mix them together thoroughly with your clean hand.
In a small pan, heat around 5 tbs of vegetable oil, fry fenugreek seed and add turmeric powder. Turn off the heat and let it cool. Pour the oil in bowl and mix it together for thorough coating using your hand.
Put the mixture in a large clean sterile glass jars. Make it compact using spatula or spoon and add some vegetable oil to cover its top. Keep the jars in the sunlight for around four or five days and let it ferment. In less than week, the cucumber will be perfectly fermented and ready for consuming. It can be stored for several weeks to months without refrigeration. In case you start seeing the mold, remove the mold and store the jar in the freeze.
The pickle has peculiar sourness from fermentation, chunky yet soft texture, and heat and kick from chilies and mustard.
(Note: Please clean and sterile all the equipment- bowls, jars, spatula- using hot water. This prevents formation of molds in the pickle)
For making salad from the soft pulp, first remove the seeds; add some chopped onion, green/red chilies and fresh coriander leaves; add little turmeric powder, cumin and coriander powder, Szechuan pepper and salt. Mix them together. This makes refreshing salad.
More information on Bhadaure Kankro: Taste of Nepal