Easy piccalilli recipe

A great little pickle to give as a gift or pack for a picnic.
A great little pickle to give as a gift or pack for a picnic. Photo: William Meppem

A great little pickle to give as a gift, perfect for Boxing Day sandwiches and salads. If you're making this for an elderly friend, you may want to sieve the seeds and peppercorns out after making the brine; replacing them with ground spices dulls the beautiful yellow colour.


For the vinegar brine

400g clear vinegar, such as cider or white wine

3 fat cloves of garlic, peeled and finely sliced

2 cm chunk of fresh ginger, peeled and cut into fine slivers

1 tsp each of cumin and coriander seeds

1 tsp whole black peppercorns

1 tsp ground turmeric, or a thick 5cm fresh piece, peeled and grated

½ tsp each ground cardamom and cayenne

1 tsp salt, plus extra to taste when you thicken it

For the vegetables

180g cauliflower, cut into tiny florets

½ red capsicum, chopped into 1cm squares

100g green beans, chopped into 2cm pieces

100g drained silverskin cocktail onions

75g drained cornichons, cut into 1cm pieces

To thicken

25g chickpea flour, or cornflour

15g split mustard seeds (rai kuriya), or mustard powder for a smoother finish

40g sugar, or to taste


Put the brine ingredients into a saucepan, bring to the boil then simmer for 5 minutes to bring out the flavours. If you don't want seeds in the finished relish, strain them out now.

Add the cauliflower, capsicum and beans to the brine and simmer for 5 minutes: you want them still very crunchy at the end. Drain the vegetables into a colander over a bowl, returning the brine to the pan and letting it cool slightly. Add the onions and cornichons to the vegie mix in the colander and leave both until the sauce is ready.

Whisk the chickpea flour and mustard seeds with a ladleful of the warm brine until smooth, then stir it back into the remaining brine with the sugar and bring to the boil. Check the flavour for sweet-sour balance and seasoning and adjust to taste. Add the drained vegetables, onions and cornichons, bring to the boil then bottle and seal while hot.

Tip: I don't salt the vegetables overnight, a step that would give more crispness, but you might do this. And I do the lazy-man thing of using ready-pickled cornichons and silverskin onions (the tiny sort you would serve in a Gibson cocktail), as they're hard to buy fresh and fiddly to prepare.

More of Dan Lepard's DIY Christmas hamper recipes here