Bitter orange pickle

by Beca Lyne-Pirkis

Seville orange preserve laced with chillies and tempered spices

Not many fruits can withstand such a strong line-up of spices and chilli heat, but the bitterness of the oranges remains even after marinating and the addition of the tempered spices. The asafoetida adds a fragrant ripe mango note to the pickle and the heat is held back (ever so slightly) by the chorus of spices. Best left to its own devices for 2 weeks before enjoying.


8 Seville oranges (around 550g)
3 tbsp sea salt
6 garlic cloves, grated
A thumb-sized piece of ginger, peeled and grated
3 tbsp light brown sugar
½ tbsp turmeric powder
1 tsp asafoetida
½ tbsp cumin powder
½ tbsp coriander powder
3-5 bird’s eye chillies

For the tempered spices:
2 tbsp rapeseed oil
1 tsp nigella seeds
1 tsp fenugreek seeds
1 tsp mustard seeds
½ tbsp chilli flakes
12 curry leaves


Begin by giving the oranges a good clean. Pat them dry, then cut into 1/16 (cut in half, then into quarters, then into eighths and then into 16). Remove the pips and place the pieces in a pan along with around 200ml water and the sea salt.

Bring the water to the boil then reduce to barely a simmer, stirring occasionally for around 30 mins, until the fruit is tender. I keep the pan semi-covered with a lid to create a lovely steamy atmosphere to help soften the fruit. Remove from the heat and leave to cool a little.

In a glass bowl, combine the grated garlic and ginger, brown sugar, turmeric powder, asafoetida, cumin and coriander. Slit the chillies and add them to the bowl, along with the warm orange pieces. Stir well to combine, cover and leave to marinate for 2 hours or overnight.

Preheat the oven to 115C. To sterilise your jars, wash them in hot soapy water—get the water as hot as you can bear it—rinse the bubbles off, place them on a baking tray and put them straight into the oven to dry and sterilise. Do this just before you’re ready to spoon the mixture into the jars.

To add the final flavour layer to the pickle, heat 3 tbsp oil in a small frying pan over a medium-high heat. Add in the whole spices and curry leaves and wait until the spices start to come to life and pop. Turn the heat off and add the tempered spices to the marinated oranges and stir well. Carefully pour the pickle into your hot sterilised jars and seal.

Keep the jars in eyesight somewhere in the kitchen on a worktop and turn the jars upside-down every other day for at least 2 weeks before consuming with caution along with some poppadums, cooling raita, a freshly chopped katchumber and some mango chutney.

Recipe: Beca Lyne-Pirkis