Nellikai oorugai – Gooseberry pickle

nellikai oorugai | instant gooseberry pickle

Pickles are an absolutely indispensable part of the Indian food experience. However fiery it may be, the meal is never complete without a teaspoon of it. This instant gooseberry pickle is a quick-fix idea to complete the Indian meal plate. In under 20 minutes, you have a tangy, tasty, tough tingling nellikai orrugai on your plate.

Nellikai oorugai was a part of our childhood. With a small tree that gave a small basket of fruit in season, each year amma had a variety of pickles that she made with these. Mostly long-stay ones were her favourite,  but who likes wait time? I venture to instant ones whenever I see frozen gooseberries now in the Indian grocery more often than the long-stay ones she makes out of fresh gooseberries. 

Understanding Gooseberry

The Indian gooseberry, neliikai, amlakai or amla is one that Indian mothers vouch for next to turmeric. High in Vit C these berries of Phyllanthus emblica, have a unique astringent flavour to them. Pastel green in colour with a translucent look to them, the berries form as segments around the central seed. The fresh gooseberry was a favourite snack whereas the pickled ones are tastier. In Asian and Indian cuisine,  these gooseberries are used in both sweet and savoury preparations. The tree as such is unique as it is one where the leaves demonstrate nyctinasty( sleeps at night).

Frozen vs fresh gooseberries for nellikai oorugai.

The gooseberries are hardy enough that they freeze well. Fresh or frozen gooseberries work well in this recipe. Though the fresh gooseberries tend to be a bit juicier in the pickle than the frozen ones, you really cannot fault the one made with frozen gooseberries. Today I have made this oorugai with frozen gooseberries. We hardly get fresh ones here so let’s make the best of the frozen ones. 

Prepping the gooseberries for nellikai oorugai.

Gooseberries have segmented flesh outside the hard central seed. The skin is edible and thin, so no peeling is required. Wash and remove the stalks, once you drain and pat dry the berries are ready to use.
In this recipe, we have not removed the seed. You can go a step ahead and remove the seed too. Use a sharp knife to slice of the flesh. Here is another way, easier too. Once the gooseberries have been boiled, press them down with a spoon and the segments separate.  You can easily remove the seed this way.

whole gooseberry pickle.

Nellikai oorugai

his instant gooseberry pickle is a quick-fix idea to complete the Indian meal plate. In under 20 minutes, you have a tangy, tasty, tough tingling nellikai orrugai on your plate.
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 12 minutes
Course Pickles, Side Dish
Cuisine diabetic friendly, Indian, One pot, South indian, Vegan, Vegetarian


  • 1 saucepan


  • 1 tbsp Sesame oil
  • 1/2 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1/4 tsp fenugreek seeds
  • 10-12 medium gooseberry
  • 1 tbsp red chilli powder
  • salt to taste


  • Set the saucepan at medium heat.
  • Add the oil to the heated pan and then the mustard seeds.
  • When the mustard crackles add the fenugreek seeds and the gooseberries.
  • Saute for a minute and add the salt and a cup water.
  • Let this boil for 7 to 8 minutes . The gooseberries will then look opaque.
  • Now add the red chilli powder and remove from heat.
  • Stir well and let the pickle cool.
  • Store the pickle in clean dry bottles.
  • Enjoy the pickle with your meal.
    nellikai oorugai | instant gooseberry pickle
Keyword Indian vegetarian dinner, Lunch recipes, Pickle recipes
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

Storing this instant gooseberry pickle.

Since it is an instant variety of pickles, the recipe doesn’t stay for long like the traditional slow pickled ones. It is best to keep the pickle in the refrigerator and it stays for upto 3 weeks. Store in a clean, dry, airtight glass bottle. Use a clean dry spoon to serve the pickle to prevent any mould growth.

Perfect combinations with nellikai oorugai

Traditionalists are certainly going to point the way to a complete Indian meal to serve with this pickle. The pickle tastes great with Curd rice or peas pulao. I use the pickle masala to flavour peanuts to make masala peanuts. At times we make a simple meal of steamed rice with mango dal as our lunch. The gooseberry pickle on the side is the one that makes the meal well-rounded.

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instant gooseberry pickle

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1 year ago
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😍 amla pickle looks so yum. I wish I had seen this recipe in the morning. I could have picked fresh gooseberry. But still nothing is lost next week I will definitely make some. The best instant pickle for the season.

1 year ago
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This is close to the udupi style of pickles that amma makes too. Nellikai Urugai looks and sounds lipsmacking

Jayashree T.Rao
1 year ago
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It has been a long time I made gooseberry pickle. My mother-in-law loved it and she often made it then. Will make some once I get here in the market.

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