Who cares if the love apples aren’t originally from India? We love them anyway, in any form. Most of us have grown up with love apple trees nearby. Me and my siblings; we used to climb the tree at our grandparents place and get the juicy and crisp fresh ones to eat. They’re always the best right off the tree, aren’t they?
They make pretty amazing pickles too. There’s no East Indian version of this pickle. We love the version of the pickle that’s slightly South Indian in nature, much like the chambakka pickle, or should I say chambakka achaar? They taste great with lunch or dinner.
What are love apples?
Anyways, love apples are a bell-shaped fruit that grow in clusters and have a natural shine. They taste almost like pears and have a very high water content. Love apples are also called water apples, rose apples, water rose apples, jamruls, or chambakka.
Here’s the recipe from our recent batch of spicy love apple pickle aka jamrul pickle.
Spicy Love Apple Pickle Recipe or Chambakka Recipe
Washing and cleaning the love apples
First off, gather your love apples from the tree. You can also pick a few of them off the floor if they’ve just fallen within the hour and haven’t been bruised. Why waste? Or you could just leave them for the birds.
Wash the love apples, chop them into halves and deseed them.
Roughly chop the love apples into 1 cm or 1.5 cm long rectangles or squares. It doesn’t really matter. They’re going to lose water and shape later on.
By the way, I just remembered that we also call them jams. I don’t know why. Will ask the parents or aunts and uncles one of these days. If you know why though, please comment and let me know.
We wash the love apples once more with water and a bit of vinegar because sometimes there’s grime in them, or teeny worms, or the fluff that the worms leave behind. I mean, if you’re willing to take your chances you don’t need to wash them, but I prefer to wash. I almost spent half an hour inspecting each and every piece. Phobic much!
If you’re living a gluten-free diet, wash with cider vinegar or apple vinegar or apple cider vinegar.
Frying the love apples with spices
Next heat some oil in a kadai or large pan, along with red kashmiri chillies, red chilly powder, hing or asafoetida, turmeric powder, methi or fenugreek seeds, rai or mustard seeds, and salt. Wondering why the hing? Because in addition to making you let out a dozen farts it also gives the food some zing.
By the way, I have a friend who is allergic to gluten. So in case you are too, don’t worry. This recipe is essentially gluten-free since hing and methi are naturally gluten-free, but sometimes acquire gluten while being processed in a gluten-friendly factory. Commercial producers of asafoetida or fenugreek powder use wheat to make the powders smoother. So you just need to ensure that you buy your asafoetida aka hing and methi aka fenugreek powder or seeds from GF or gluten-free producers. They use rice instead of wheat for processing. Read the labels carefully and you’re fine!
Next, add the chopped jams aka love apples and saute for 10 to 15 minutes.
After some time, taste the pickle and if it’s got a spicy zing to it. It’s just perfect. Just add in a few spoons of vinegar for preservation and turn the stove off. If you need to add in more spices, just use your own judgment. These are home recipes. There are no right or wrong amounts.
Add a handful of curry leaves on top and leave to cool before bottling into jars. The pickle can last for months if you’ve made it in bulk.
Isn’t this the most perfect spicy love apple fruit pickle?
Spicy Love Apple Pickle
- 1 kg Love Apples
- 6 tbsp Chilly Powder
- 10 Kashmiri Chillies
- 1 tbsp Asafoetida (Hing)
- 2 tbsp Fenugreek seeds (Methi seeds)
- 1 tsp Turmeric Powder
- 8 tbsp Oil
- 2 tsp Mustard seeds (Rai)
- 2 tbsp Curry leaves
- 1 tbsp Salt
- 3 tbsp Apple cider vinegar For preservation
- 10 tbsp Apple cider vinegar For washing
- Wash the love apples and dice into 1 or 1.5 cm large squares.
- Wash again with apple cider vinegar to remove grime. (Or any other gluten free vinegar.)
- Heat the oil in a large pan (kadai) and fry mustard seeds till they start to pop.
- Add the chilly powder, kashmiri chillies, asafoetida (hing), fenugreek seeds (methi), turmeric powder, salt and fry for 2 minutes.
- Add the diced love apples and saute for 10 to 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Add 2 to 3 tbsps of apple cider vinegar and mix well. (This is optional and only necessary for preserving for months at a time.)
- Add the curry leaves and turn the flame off.
- Cool the pickle before moving to jars to store.