What is achar? Achar is pickled vegetables of all kinds. It’s famous for it’s appetising, sour, sweet and spicy delicious taste. Achar is a Penang Peranakan Nyonya dish, another Malaysian authentic dish that I would savour and eat any time. My family in Malaysia, Penang love Achar, fish stomach (perut ikan), and cincaluk (preserved baby shrimp). Grandma always make this Achar dish whenever there is celebration of 1 month old baby, birthday, and even Chinese New Year.
Achar can be served before meals, or together with a main dish. It’s delicious eaten as an appetiser on its own, with rice or sometimes as a side dish when we have guests visiting from other states, served together with Nasi Lemak (Coconut Milk Rice) or even Nasi Kunyit (Yellow Turmeric Rice). Remembered watching my grandma and aunty who now live in Sydney, making lots of achar or in a spicy and sour pickle sauce.
Achar tastes better when it’s left overnight chilled in the fridge to allow all spices to come together. This Achar is great for preparing for occasions, family and in time of lockdown too. Grandma said achar can be in the fridge for 4-6 weeks provided that the spoon dig in is dry and clean. Always make sure that the cover is wipe dry before closing it back.
Today, I have decided to add achar to risoni for a change. After all, eating rice all the time seems boring to me and I enjoy eating a variety of food. Something different will entice not only me but my stomach; in fact, it’s been growling when I am preparing the achar and have decided what to go with it. My first thought was with black rice like poke bowl. However, my mind said not again poke bowl. Hmm!!! what about pasta? So ok pasta would be great and it’s not black rice but yellow.
What is risoni? Google: ”Risoni is a form of short-cut pasta, shaped like a large grain of rice, called by the name Orzo. Orzo is traditionally made from white flour, but it can also be made of whole grain. The name orzo is common for this pasta shape in North America, and less common in Italy; the Italian word orzo means barley.”
Well, let the East and West meet today. When combined risoni and achar; the flavour from Achar had absorbed into risoni giving it a tiny bit of crunchiness and blast of spiciness sour pickle sauce dancing in my mouth. How comforting my stomach is. I love it hot spicy. If you can’t take too spicy reduce the chili or paste a bit. Serve with a glass of white wine. Let’s cook!!!!
Risoni pasta 250 g, cook as packet instruction: al dente
5 tbsp of salt
3 Tbsp sugar
To make the sauce
6 candle nuts, pound and blend till fine
1 small brown onion, peeled, and blend
3-5 whole garlic cloves, peeled, and blend
1/2 inches galanga, peeled, cut and blend
4-6 dried chilli, cut and blend
8-12 fresh long red chilli, seeded
3 stalks of lemon grass, using only 7 cm of the root end, cut and blend
To fry with the blended sauce ingredients above
Oil for frying
1 packet A 1 action 1 instant curry paste
5 Tbsp chilli paste with soya bean oil (hot)
2-4 tsp turmeric powder
1 Tsp belachan paste (bought in a bottle)
600-700 ml white vinegar
300 g sugar
1 litre of water
100 ml vinegar
150 g sugar
2 tbsp salt
Slice off the ends of the unpeeled cucumbers, cut half lengthwise and removed the membrane then cut thinly. Place cucumbers in basin and marinade with salt for at least 30 minutes. After 30 minutes squeeze dry, do not wash, and toss it in sugar. Leave in for a further 20 minutes. Transfer the cucumber in a muslin cloth and squeeze to extract the excess water. Place in colander to drain really dry for at least an hour until they are almost dry to touch.
Peel and wash the carrots, cut them into match sticks (thick), set aside to dry. Cut and wash cauliflower (florets) and the cabbage into 1/2 inches width and length. Set aside to dry. Bring the blanching ingredients to a boil and blanch the cauliflowers, carrots and cabbage for 30 secs. Remove and drain really dry.
Blend the sauce ingredients individually starting with the hard one first. Heat oil and fry the blended ingredients, turmeric, belacan paste, curry paste and chilli paste until the oil floats up. Then add the sugar, vinegar and salt to taste. Let the sauce cool down about 2 hours. Transfer sauce into a big bowl.
Place the carrot, cucumber, cabbage, and cauliflower into the sauce and toss to really mix well. Serve cold with plain rice or coconut rice with deep-fried anchovies and battered prawns or fried black pepper calamari.
Note: Separate them into smaller plastic/ freezer container to store them in freezer for 4-8 weeks or glass bowl in the fridge 2 -6 weeks provided no water drips inside and always use clean dry spoon. If you cannot take too hot omit the chilli paste with soya bean oil (hot) or use less fresh chilli or omit dried chilli.
Note: Prefer one day old Achar to add with risoni. Cooked risoni as packet instruction then plate in with warm achar; toss in with risoni.