Indian Recipes

star gooseberry cucumber

There are many fruits in the world that are lesser known but are packed with nutrients and great ingredients for making spices. One of these is the humble star gooseberry – the tart, distant cousin of the Indian gooseberry, or amla. So this recipe is a Star Gooseberry Cucumber (called Harfi Achar in Hindi) and does not require sunlight. Plus, this Kerala-style star gooseberry pickle is no-fuss and easy to make.

Star gooseberry pickle served in a bowl with a pickle jar on the side.

What is star gooseberry?

Before you get started with this star gooseberry pickle, you need to know a little bit about this unique berry. These fruits are highly effective in treating indigestion, hemorrhoids, diarrhea, bronchitis and are known to stimulate appetite and purify the blood.

The star gooseberry, also known as Malayan gooseberry, country gooseberry, Tahitian gooseberry, arbari, starberry, etc., is a species popularly found in the tropical and subtropical regions of the Caribbean, Asia, Central America, and South America.

In India, this tree is abundant in humid regions from Kerala to Manipur. The flavor of this berry is sour and pungent from its crisp, juicy, and watery pulp.

The star gooseberry has many names in different Indian regional languages. For example, “nallikai” in Kannada, “arai nellikai” in Tamil, “nellikka puli” in Malayalam, “narakoli” in Oriya, “nora/noyal/loboni” in Bengali, “raya awala” in Marathi, “kawlsunhlu” in miso etc.

Star Gooseberry used

Because this fruit has a signature texture and flavor, it’s great for pickling, and this Star Gooseberry Cucumber recipe is one of those easy recipes you can definitely try at home.

Other culinary and general uses of star gooseberry include:

  • Besides pickles, it can also be eaten raw or cooked in murabbas. Here’s another must-try murabba: mango murabba
  • Delicious jams, relishes and chutneys can be prepared with star gooseberries.
  • The raw fruits can be used as an acidulant or to make unique vinegars.
  • Star gooseberries can be juiced, mixed with some sweetener and consumed as a soft drink.
  • In addition to the fruit, star gooseberry leaves can be cooked, the wood of the tree used as fuel, and the bark used as tanning agent.

About Star Gooseberry Cucumber

Summer definitely means making a Punjabi mango pickle at home. But when the skies are cloudy and it can rain, this Star Gooseberry Pickle recipe is the one I can count on as it doesn’t need to be sun dried.

For this Star Gooseberry Pickle recipe, I referenced a recipe from one of the cookbooks I have and changed the quantities accordingly. The result is about 500 grams of a tangy-spicy cucumber that has a shelf life of 6 months.

This Star Gooseberry Pickle stays good and doesn’t spoil because of the oil and salt it contains. These act as natural preservatives. You can also use the same method to prepare a pickle with Indian gooseberries. I also shared earlier an Andhra-style amla pickle that you must try.

About this recipe

This harfi achar is simple as there is really no cooking involved other than tempering with oil and spices. Prepare the spiced star gooseberries, pour the temperament over it, mix well and pour the pickle into properly sterilized jars or bottles.

After that, all you have to do is wait for this star gooseberry cucumber to ripen after keeping it in a dry place. Be sure to shake the jar or stir the pickle with a clean, dry spoon every 2 to 3 days. It is ready to use in 7 days.

You can enjoy this pickle with any Indian meal. Also tastes great with sambar rice, quark rice and dal rice. Another favorite combination is steamed rice topped with some ghee and served with this Star Gooseberry Pickle.

Step by step guide

How to make Star Gooseberry Cucumber

Prepare star gooseberries

1. First wash 400 grams of star gooseberries and dry them with a kitchen towel. There should be no trace of moisture. These are small and deliciously tart.

I didn’t remove the seeds as they were too small. If using a larger variety, chop and remove the seeds. Cut off any injured sides.

Rinse the star gooseberries and dry on a kitchen towel.

Mix spices and salt

2. Take the gooseberries in a large bowl. Add 2 to 3 tablespoons red chili powder, 1 teaspoon turmeric powder, and ¼ cup rock salt.

Adding red chili powder, turmeric powder, and rock salt to star gooseberries.

3. Mix very well. If you try the gooseberries now, you will find them salty. After adding oil and curing, the saltiness is not felt. The flavors become softer.

Mix the spices with the star gooseberries.

do tempering

4. In another pan, heat ½ cup sesame (gingelly) oil. Let the oil get hot. Not smoking hot, but hot enough to fry the spices.

Heat sesame oil in a small pan.

5. Then add 1 teaspoon of mustard seeds and 1 teaspoon of fenugreek seeds and let them squirt.

Toss mustard seeds and fenugreek seeds in hot sesame oil.

6. Now add 1 teaspoon of Asafoetida (Hing). Stir and turn off the heat. Place the pan on the kitchen counter to allow the oil to cool to room temperature.

Adding asafoetida to the hot oil.

Craft Star Gooseberry Cucumber

7. Allow the oil to cool completely, then pour it over the star gooseberries mixed with the spices.

add the spice tempering to the star gooseberry mixture.

8. Mix everything very well.

mix the tempering into the star gooseberry mixture.

9. Put the cucumber in a sterilized jar. Cover with a lid and store the pickle in a dry corner of your kitchen for 7 days.

After every 2 to 3 days, shake the pickle bottle or jar well or stir with a clean, dry spoon. The yield is about 500 grams of cucumber. The oil will later float to the top. But don’t worry, that’s how Indian cucumbers are.

Spoon the star gooseberry cucumber into a sterilized glass jar.

10. Star gooseberry cucumber is ready in 7 days. Once ready, store outside or in the fridge.

In cold climates you can keep it outside. Store in the refrigerator in a hot and humid climate. Serve the Star Gooseberry Pickle with any Indian dish of your choice.

I prefer it with a combination of sambar rice or dal rice and even dal khichdi or pongal. You can also enjoy the cucumber with stuffed parathas like aloo paratha, gobi paratha or mooli paratha.

Star gooseberry pickle served in a bowl with a pickle jar on the side.

More unique pickle recipes to try!

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Star gooseberry cucumber in a white bowl.

star gooseberry cucumber

This Star Gooseberry Pickle is an easy pickle made with tart star gooseberries, spices, salt, and sesame oil. The cucumber recipe does not require sunlight.

preparation time 15 minutes

cooking time 5 minutes

total time 20 minutes

cooking modePrevent your screen from going dark while preparing the recipe

  • First, rinse the star gooseberries with water. Dry them with a kitchen napkin. There shouldn’t be any trace of moisture on it. If they are large, chop them and remove the seeds.

  • Take them in a large bowl. Add the red chilli powder, turmeric powder and rock salt. Mix very well.

  • In another pan, heat the sesame oil. Add mustard seeds and fenugreek seeds and let bubble.

  • Then add the asafoetida. Stir and turn off the heat.

  • Set the pan aside and allow the oil to cool completely to room temperature. Later, pour the cooled oil over the gooseberries marinated with the spices. Mix very well.

  • Put the cucumber in a sterilized jar.

  • Close tightly with a lid and store the pickle in a dry corner of your kitchen for 7 days.

  • After every 2 to 3 days, shake the pickle bottle or jar well or stir with a clean, dry spoon.

  • The star gooseberry cucumber is ready in 7 days.

  • Once the cucumber is done, store in the fridge or at room temperature.

  • In cold climates, you can leave the cucumber outside. In hot and humid climates, store the cucumber in the refrigerator. Serve Star Gooseberry Pickle with any Indian dish of your choice or with stuffed paratha.

  • Adjust the chili powder to your liking.
  • You can also use sunflower oil instead of sesame oil. But the aroma and taste change with sunflower oil.
  • Use fresh star gooseberries when in season.
  • Refrigerate the pickle jar or store in a cool, dry place, depending on the temperature and climate conditions.

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This archival Star Gooseberry Pickle post, first published in June 2014, was republished and updated on May 19, 2022.

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