Varieties of this sweet-and-sour pickle appear in many guises across Asia. It’s called achat in Thai cuisine, acar in Malaysia and Indonesia, and we call it atjar in Holland. Indonesian food is a huge part of Dutch cuisine, since the Netherlands and Indonesia shared colonial links. There are Indonesian restaurants everywhere and the food was very much a part of my growing up. My first job in a restaurant was as a waitress in a small Indonesian place in Maastricht. The way of eating lots of small, colourful dishes – some spicy, some not – served with white rice, pickles and different sambals (chilli sauces) was something I loved and felt really exciting and exotic.
- 1 tsp coriander seeds, toasted and ground
- 2 tbsp sesame oil
- 3 garlic cloves, peeled and very finely chopped
- 1 thumb-sized piece of fresh ginger, grated
- 2 tsp turmeric
- 1 tbsp sambal oelek (available in Asian food stores)
- 50 g (2 oz) granulated (raw) sugar
- 1 ½ tbsp sea salt
- 375 ml (12½ fl oz) cider vinegar
- 1 medium-sized white cabbage, washed
- 1 medium-sized carrot, washed and peeled
- ½ head of medium sized cauliflower, washed
- 4 fresh red chillies, deseeded and finely chopped
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
You will need 1 x 1L or 2 x 500 ml jars for this recipe.
Heat the oil in a small pan and add the ground coriander seeds, garlic and ginger. Cook over a medium to high heat for 5 minutes, until aromatic and starting to turn golden.
Add the turmeric and sambal oelek to the pan and stir-fry for 3 minutes, until aromatic. Now add the sugar, salt, 375 ml (12½ fl oz) of water and the vinegar, and stir over a medium to high heat until all the sugar and salt have dissolved. Simmer for the next 5–10 minutes while you’re prepping your veggies.
Cut the cabbage and carrot into very thin slices (use a mandoline if you have one). Cut the cauliflower into small florets.
Add all the vegetables to the pan with the chillies and cook for 5 minutes.
Drain the vegetable into a fine mesh sieve and discard the spices but reserve the pickling liquid. Put the pickles in a clean jar and top with the reserved liquid. Put the lid on and allow to cool to room temperature. Once cool, the pickles are ready to eat, but they will improve with age. If refrigerated, they will last for up to 1 month.
Recipes and images from Pickled by Freddie Janssen (Hardie Grant Books, $29.99, hbk).
View our Readable feasts review and more recipes from the book here.