IndiaBackground: John Sinjobi, the chef de cuisine at Indego at Grosvenor House (04 399 8888), recalls childhood memories of his mother making pickled mangoes.
Types: ‘Anything can be pickled, but a lot depends on the region,’ explains Sinjobi. In the north, they use mustard oil to make pickles; southerners use fennel seed oil. In vegetal regions, such as Andhra Pradesh, everything from gooseberries to bitter gourd has a pickled counterpart.
How to make them: There’s no consistent recipe for Indian pickles, although Sinjobi explains that drying the fruit or veg will make it last longer. Some pickles are made by adding salt and chilli, then storing for several days, before adding oil and various spices. The pickles are then stored for another couple of days before eating.
LebanonBackground: According to Ahmed Kansou, the chef de cuisine at Lebanese restaurant Mays El-Reem at the JW Marriott (04 607 7977), ‘pickles are very important in Lebanese culture. Many families make their own from fresh ingredients, and we eat them at least four times a week.’
Types: ‘We have many: beetroot, cabbage, carrot, cauliflower, peppers… whatever’s fresh at the market. In Lebanon, you don’t buy pickles in stores that much because everyone makes their own.’
How to make them: Boil water with vinegar, salt and sugar, then let it cool. Cook your veg for a few minutes to soften them, then put them in a jar with the vinegar solution. Store the mixture for 20 days before eating. The pickles will last 60 days.
Personal fave: ‘I like makdous: pickled aubergine stuffed with walnuts. You can buy them at Wafi Gourmet.’Various locations, including Wafi Mall (04 324 4433)
KoreaBackground: Korean pickles are called ‘kimchi’. ‘In Korea, you can’t eat food without kimchi,’ says chef Yue Jin Jin of Korean restaurant Dae Jang Kum at the Royal Ascot Hotel (04 355 8500).
Types: ‘Everything gets pickled in Korea. Cabbage is the most popular, but we also eat pickled eggs, radish, sesame leaves, even acorn jelly… everything.’
How to make them: ‘We value fishy and sour tastes; how they’re made depends on the taste of the chef. The longer you store them, the more sour they become. They’re usually mixed with fish sauce and chilli powder to give them spice. I guess what makes our kimchi unique is that they are made up of so many flavours.’
Personal fave: ‘I like traditional kimchi, with cabbage. We make our own pickled items at the restaurant. However, you can also pick up kimchi at 1004 Mart.’ Al Barsha (04 323 4536)
JapanBackground: ‘The Japanese pickle everything!’ says chef Ryu Sato Gardiner of Okku at The Monarch (04 501 8777). ‘They’re a fundamental part of the Japanese food culture.’
Types: ‘The most common types of pickles are daikon radish, aubergine lotus root and Napa cabbage, which are known collectively as ‘tsukemono’.
How to make them: ‘There are two methods, both involving salt. ‘Nukasuke’ is the process of pickling with rice bran, which is combined with salt and chilli peppers and mixed until it becomes a paste, after which the vegetables are immersed. The other method uses distilled rice vinegar that can sometimes be mixed with dried sea kelp.’
Personal fave: ‘My favourite is takuan, which is pickled daikon radish. We make it in-house, though you can also buy it at Dean’s Fujiya, which sells lots of Japanese pickes.’ Near Lamcy Plaza, Oud Metha (04 337 0503)