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Achar (Nyonya Pickles)

Achar (acar) or pickled spicy vegetables is a popular appetizer in South East Asian cuisine (Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia). With its sour, spicy and sweet taste, this is a great appetite booster which complements almost any meal. It’s really affordable to make your own achar as the ingredients are cheap and commonly found in the market. You will also be rewarded with quite a lot of these pickled vegetables! But the process, especially the slicing and air drying, can be quite tedious. Fortunately I have always found cutting vegetables therapeutic! The hard work is definitely worth it at the end of the day, as home-made achar tastes better, crunchier, and very customizable (more or less sweet, sour and spicy) to suit your family’s taste buds.

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Acar Recipe

In this recipe, the cucumber, carrot, cabbage and pineapple is a common acar mix in Singapore. In the Penang Nyonya version, long beans and eggplants are often added too. They go well with steamed rice or coconut rice (nasi lemak), and also as a side condiment for almost any Asian meal. Check out the pictorial step-by-step below (click on the photos to view full size), or head over to the next page for the printable recipe with the ingredient measurements and steps.

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Printable Recipe >>
Note: This is a pictorial step-by-step guide. Ingredients, seasonings and measurements are at the “Printable Recipe” link above.
 Acar Recipe - Step-by-Step Pictures Cut cucumber into 3.5 cm sections (crosswise). Quarter each section (lengthwise) by cutting around and discarding the seed block. Slice thinly. Coat sliced cucumber with salt for 1 hour.
 Acar Recipe - Step-by-Step Pictures After an hour, rinse cucumber and place them in a coconut squeezer bag. Wring out excess water. Spread out cucumber on a wide plate. Air dry for one hour.
 Acar Recipe - Step-by-Step Pictures Peel carrot and cut into 3.5 cm sections (crosswise). Halve each section (lengthwise) and slice thinly. Stack the slices and cut to thin matchsticks.
 Acar Recipe - Step-by-Step Pictures Coat carrot with salt for 1 hour. After an hour, rinse carrots and pat dry on paper towels. Spread out cut carrot on a wide plate. Air dry for one hour.
 Acar Recipe - Step-by-Step Pictures Cut cabbage into bite-sized pieces and coat evenly with salt for an hour. After an hour, rinse cabbage and pat dry on paper towels. Spread out cabbage on a wide plate. Air dry for one hour.
 Acar Recipe - Step-by-Step Pictures  Cut pineapple flesh to small chunks.
 Acar Recipe - Step-by-Step Pictures What the achar vegetables look like, when mixed together after air-drying. They are ready for the pickling.
 Acar Recipe - Step-by-Step Pictures While waiting for the vegetables to air dry, prepare the achar spices by cutting them to appropriate sizes as stated in the recipe on the next page.
 Acar Recipe: Acar Paste In a food processor, blend spices into a smooth paste. Note: You may also use a mortar and pestle. Transfer paste to a stain-proof bowl and mix in tumeric powder.
 Acar Recipe - Step-by-Step Pictures  In a wok, stir fry to cook achar paste until aromatic.
 Acar Recipe - Step-by-Step Pictures  Add seasonings, mix well and bring to a simmer.
Acar Recipe - Step-by-Step Pictures Turn off the stove. Stir in prepared vegetables, peanuts and sesame seeds. Season to taste.
 Acar Recipe When cooled, store achar in sealed glass containers, refrigerated. Allow the achar to pickle overnight before consuming.

11 comments on “Achar (Nyonya Pickles)”

  1. Sour, spicy and sweet…what a flavour party!

  2. The prep. of the vegetables, cut-salt-rinse-dry needs patience and there is what I lack. :O

    This is super-addictive Achar !

  3. I have never tried anything like this…from the list of ingredients, this vegetables must taste delicious…
    Have a great week ahead Wiffy :)

  4. Pingback: Achar (Nyonya Pickles) | Simply Chinese Cuisine

  5. Very crunchy and goes very well with rice!

  6. Do you by chance sell the nonya pickles

  7. Hi, where do I buy candle nuts in Singapore? NTUC? how does it look like? Thanks!

    • they look like macademia with rough surface. You get get from the dried goods section of local supermarket – the section which sells dried chilli, tang hoon, etc…

  8. Which brand of rice vinegar is good for achar.
    Can I use rice wine vinegar? Is it the same as rice vinegar?
    Thanks!

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