Kala’s Sweet and Sour Lime Pickle

I found very good quality limes in the food stores – though the prices have not come down much 🙂 Since the limes were so fresh and luscious, I decided to make this Sweet and Sour Lime Pickle. I have been making this pickle for the last 35 years as my husband loved it. He always wanted a sweet and sour pickle and would also ask for it. I developed this recipe and, as the years went by, I modified it till I arrived at the perfect balance of flavours which was loved by the whole family.

Kalas Sweet and Sour Lime Pickle - Kalas Kalai

Kala’s Sweet and Sour Lime Pickle

This pickle can be served even in feasts because the sweet and sour flavour goes well with biriyanis, fried rices, and pulavs, as well as with the more humble (yet delicious) sambars and kuzhambus.

Nutritive Value

The unique nutrient contribution of this pickle is ascorbic acid (vitamin C) – 100g of lime gives 63mg of vitamin C, which is a very powerful antioxidant. Though the pickle contains sugar, the amount becomes negligible considering the serving size. Diabetics can enjoy this pickle without feeling guilty.


  • 30-40 Limes
  • 1 C Salt Crystals
  • 6 T Kashmiri Chilli Powder
  • 1 ½ T Cumin Powder
  • 2 T Mustard Powder
  • 1 T Turmeric Powder
  • 6 inch/15 cm piece Ginger, diced
  • 4 whole Garlic, peeled (small variety)
  • 10 Green Chillies, stalks removed
  • 4 sprigs Curry Leaves
  • 2 C Vinegar
  • ½ C Sugar
  • 2 C Vegetable Oil


  1. Wash and wipe the limes.
  2. Quarter the limes and mix with the salt crystals. Soak for a week in an airtight container. Shake the container every day so that the salt liquor mixes with the lime.
  3. Mix all the spice powders (chilli, cumin, mustard, turmeric) together.
  4. Heat the oil in a very large kadai or wok.
  5. Add the garlic and fry till tiny bubbles appear on the surface of the garlic. Do not brown.
  6. Add the dry masala powders. Stir once.
  7. Immediately add the green chillies and ginger, and stir for a minute.
  8. Add the soaked lime along with the salt liquor. Stir.
  9. Add the vinegar and stir. Bring to boil. Lower heat and simmer for 2 minutes.
  10. Add the sugar and the curry leaves. Stir till the sugar dissolves.
  11. Remove from heat. Cool and bottle. Each bottle should have at least a centimetre of oil over the surface of the pickle.


  1. If you are using lemon instead of lime, you will have to increase the spices a little as lemon juice and rind have a stronger flavour. If you prefer a milder taste, you can use the same proportions as in this recipe but increase the sugar alone to ¾ cup.
  2. If the garlic is browned, it will give a strong flavour which will mask the flavour of other spices.
  3. Chillies must not be slit. If they are, the seeds will escape into the masala, making the pickle very hot.
  4. I use either Gingelly (Sesame) oil or Sunflower oil.
  5. Do not broil any of the spices. The flavour will be ruined.
  6. The lime, when soaked in salt, gives off moisture which results in salt liquor being formed. This should be used in the making of the pickle, as it contains Vitamin C and the preservative. Do not discard.
  7. I prefer to use Kashmiri chilli powder for its mild flavour. If you are using any other chilli powder, use only half the quantity.

2 thoughts on “Kala’s Sweet and Sour Lime Pickle

  1. Dear Ma’m
    Salted lime and Spicy lime with chilli powder are common in our households but the sweet sour recipe given by you is novel.Also the chilli ginger version we make is for short term use.This sounds interesting.
    Is it okay to omit the garlic as elders don’t take garlic and some others may also not prefer garlic ?
    Thanks for sharing this tried and tested recipe and one close to your heart as uncle loved it!

    • Hi Jaya, remove the garlic if you like. The flavour may not change much as the lime and other spices are equally dominant. Let me know how it tastes. This pickle keeps for months if the bottle is unopened

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