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Lime Pickle Recipe

Once you try this lime pickle, you won’t go back to shop bought!

I am so happy to have been taught this lime pickle recipe. I love lime pickle and have since I was first introduced to Indian food.

It goes fantastically well with homemade naan bread, pappadams, samosas and as a side to many curries.

Lime pickle is served at almost every Indian restaurant and would be greatly missed if it weren’t!

Lime pickle

Homemade chunky lime pickle. Blend longer if you prefer a smoother texture.


There was a time when I always had a supermarket brand name jar of lime pickle in the fridge.

These days I make my own and believe me the taste is so much better.

This recipe was taught to me by the chef of our local tandoori. He too used to serve those name brand pickles but now swears by this recipe.

My lime pickle recipe makes quite a lot but the pickle lasts indefinitely in a sterilised jar in a cool dark place such as a cupboard to the fridge.

Making lime pickle

Preparing the lime and garlic mixture in a glass bowl.

Making lime pickle

Squeeze the juice out of the lime mixture and refrigerate the liquid.

Making lime pickle

Steam the lime mixture until soft.

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What about all that salt?

You might notice that it is quite salty. Lime pickles have been served for hundreds of years and they are usually salty in flavour.

Think of this lime pickle and others like it like you would salt. Use it as you would salt.

Instead of adding salt to plain white rice, serve it with some of this pickle.

Serving rice in this way is how it is done all over India. It’s a vegetarian meal in its own right!

What other uses are there for lime pickle?

Sometimes I add lime pickle to my curries as well.

Again, do this before you add salt. It is delicious stirred into a curry like my curry house style chicken Madras for example.

It takes some time to make this lime pickle but it’s worth the wait!

Now let’s tackle the one thing that scares a lot of people off making this. It takes about three days and then it is best not to serve it for another week for optimum flavour.

Put that out of your head and make it. I promise… you’ll be glad you did.

Make a huge batch and keep it in the fridge for when you need it. I often double or even triple this recipe. I like it that much.

Hope you do too! Enjoy.

Thinking of a great gift for a friend?

Every year I make a few huge batches of this pickle along with a few others. 

As the lime pickle keeps for ages, there is no rush to give them away. 

Simply make them up and put the lime pickle into some attractive sterilised jars and you have a gift that any curry fan would love.

What’s more, you made it yourself which makes the gift even more special. 

If you like the look of this delicious lime pickle, you might like to try these…

Indian Mixed Vegetable Pickle
Easy lemon pickle
Chickpea, Garlic and Carrot Pickle


Yield: 500ml

Lime Pickle Recipe

Lime pickle
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Additional Time 3 days
Total Time 3 days 45 minutes


  • 1kg (2 lbs) limes - stab holes in each lime and then cut into eight pieces
  • 125g (1/3 cup) salt
  • 40 cloves of garlic - smashed
  • 50g red chilli powder - or less if you don't like spicy pickles
  • 150ml (3/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 30 grams (1/3 cup) white cumin seeds
  • 3 Tablespoons black mustard seeds
  • ½ teaspoon asafoetida


  1. Place the limes in a bowl and add the salt, whole garlic cloves and red chilli powder. Mix well coating the limes and pressing down on them as you do. Retain the juices and refrigerate and then place the juiced lime mixture into a steamer and steam for about 15 minutes until they are quite soft.
  2. Transfer the lime mixture to a glass bowl and cover with a towel. Leave in the sun or a warm place for two days. Mix every eight hours to keep the limes coated with all the other ingredients.
  3. At the end of day two, heat the vegetable oil over medium high heat. When the oil is hot, throw in the black mustard seeds, cumin seeds and the asafoetida. The mustard seeds will begin to pop. When they do, pour the oil mixture over the limes and stir well.
  4. Pour in the reserved lime juices too.
  5. Cover again with the towel and allow to sit in the sun or a warm place for another two days.
  6. At the end of two days scoop the lime pickle into a food processor and process to a chunky or smooth paste. Place this in a sterilised air tight container and let sit in a cool place for at least two weeks before serving.

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I hope you enjoy my lime pickle recipe. If you do try it, please leave a comment. I’d love to hear from you.


Wednesday 22nd of September 2021

Hi Dan, I love the lime-pickle! I let it ferment a few days longer than you suggest, it turned out beautifully! I’ll be sharing this recipe with friends and family.

Dan Toombs

Friday 24th of September 2021

Great to hear, thank you very much. Dan


Sunday 23rd of May 2021

I have found that if you squeeze out the lime/garlic mixture a handful at a time (wearing rubber gloves and NOT touching your face!) the limes and garlic fill a Kilner jar that then fits in my steamer. - which is one of those ones like a saucepan without a handle, and with holes in the bottom, that sits on a pan of water so absolutely no chance of direct contact with the heat source. So none of those juices are going to be lost.

Dan Toombs

Monday 24th of May 2021

Thanks for the tip, glad you made it work! Dan

Kris Crider

Wednesday 10th of February 2021

This recipe was time consuming and particular and the steaming confused me as it isn't usually part of the fermentation process. I love the jarred lime pickle I get at the Indian grocer but it is not always available. Since I have done quite a bit of lacto-fermentation with veggies & lemons, I decided to try to make my own lime pickle and found your recipe. I just finished putting the mixture into jars (after the 4 days of prep work) and I tasted the mix ---- FANTASTIC. It hasn't even done its two week turn in the jars. Such a wonderful surprise. This is way better than the jarred lime pickle.

A note about the salt comments above - I wouldn't skimp on the salt as it is required for fermentation - this is science at work. The mix is salty but as Dan mentioned several times above - it is really just a seasoning. Don't confuse this with your traditional jar of pickles. If you use fermented lemons for any Middle Eastern dishes, you will understand the role of the salt...and my family LOVES fermented lemons. Additionally, I used half the chili powder (I actually used red chili flakes). I was a little scared of 50g. After tasting it, I probably should have used more. I think the fermentation process dilutes the spiciness of the chilis. Mine is not that spicy and not close to the spice level of the jarred variety - live & learn.

This was great. Thanks for sharing.

Dan Toombs

Thursday 11th of February 2021

Thanks very much for your observations and advice. I am glad you enjoyed the recipe. Dan

peggy fisher

Sunday 7th of February 2021

Hi Dan,

I'm about to make your lime pickle. All the comments say I should. A couple of questions though. Back in your correspondence in July 2015 you mention fenugreek. I assume you are talking about a different recipe because fenugreek is not listed in your ingredients. Should it be? Also should I do anything with the cumin or put it in whole?

Thanks. Peggy

Dan Toombs

Monday 8th of February 2021

Hi Peggy Fenugreek is not necessary for this recipe. Just put the cumin seeds in whole, that will work fine. Thanks Dan

Mick Thomas

Friday 11th of December 2020

Without a doubt it’s THE best lime pickle ever!!!

Dan Toombs

Saturday 12th of December 2020

Good to hear. Thanks Dan

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