Somewhere South with Chef Vivian Howard

Sri Lankan Achcharu

From chef Samantha Fore

Sam’s pop-up, Tuk Tuk Sri Lankan Bites took center stage in “Somewhere South’s” pickle episode. As a first generation Sri Lankan-American, Kentucky-born chef, Fore’s impromptu dinners bring Sri Lankan flavors to Appalachian diners. Her participation in the Brown in the South Supper Series which highlights Southern-based chefs of Indian descent, is sorely missed by fans of her inventive merging of flavors. We asked Fore to share a recipe that takes advantage of items in your pantry, and she obliged. Try her recipe for a classic Sri Lankan pickle.


For the pickle:

  • 2 quarts water
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • 4 tablespoons apple cider vinegar (I used coconut vinegar on the show)
  • 1/2 green papaya (available at the local Asian markets)
  • 1 cup pearl onions, cleaned
  • 1 cup quartered radishes
  • 2 cups carrot sticks or baby carrots
  • 1 cup shishito peppers

For the paste:

  • 2 tablespoons black mustard seeds
  • 2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • 3 cloves roughly chopped garlic
  • 1-inch knob of ginger, roughly chopped, about 1 tablespoon


Step 1: Combine the water, kosher salt, turmeric and apple cider vinegar in a large saucepan over high heat and bring to a boil. Drop cleaned onions into boiling water for 1 minute, strain them out and reserve in a glass bowl. Repeat the process with all other vegetables, allowing to cook in boiling water for 4 to 5 minutes, then straining and adding to the glass bowl. For the peppers, boil 3 minutes until the stem pulls away from the pepper easily. Chop the peppers roughly after boiling.

Once all vegetables are boiled, set aside. Reserve 2 to 3 tablespoons of the cooking liquid. 

Step 2: In a bullet blender or small food processor, combine black mustard seeds, turmeric, apple cider vinegar, salt, turmeric, garlic, ginger and the reserved cooking liquid. Buzz until a rough paste is formed — you want the seeds to split but not be completely pulverized and smooth. 

Massage paste into vegetables evenly, and load the coated vegetables into a nonreactive glass vessel — a mason jar is ideal. Allow to sit on the counter for 6-10 hours, then move to refrigerator for two to three days. Pickles should be tender and vinegar shouldn’t be sharp — the spice should carry from the black mustard seed. Serve alongside hot rice and curry, or enjoy snacking at will.