Spicy Kumquat Pickle Achar

Spicy Kumquat Pickle Achar

Spicy Kumquat Pickle Achar is a hot, sweet and sour pickle preserved with oil that can be eaten with everything from scrambled eggs to biryani.

My late father, may Allah have mercy on his soul and grant him the highest paradise, loved kumquats. Whenever he visited Citrusdal, a citrus farming community about two hours outside of Cape Town during winter, he brought back oranges, lemons, naartjies (mandarins) and kumquats.

Kumquats are the olive sized citrus fruits of a hardy evergreen shrub that have tart flesh and a sweet and slightly bitter edible peel when ripe. The small fruits are excellent for pickled kumquats, kumquat achars, kumquat chutney, kumquat marmalade or preserved in sugar syrup. We are looking forward to more kumquat recipes and have already started with this easy spiced Kumquat Marmalade.

One day my dad brought back more kumquats than we knew what to do with, and my mum decided that it was more than enough to make a homemade kumquat achar recipe before they went bad. Using the same achar recipe that her friend Soeriya used for her spicy and sweet pickle recipe, she made enough to stock a small store. We were happy because we had enough of the spicy, sweet and sour kumquat pickle achar to last until Summer, plus enough to give away to relatives as gifts.

Since that day nearly thirty years ago, whenever I see kumquats I immediately think of my parents and kumquat achar. I was quite surprised to see kumquats in my local supermarket and was compelled to buy a few punnets to try and recreate this easy pickle recipe. I could not remember how to make pickles but since I finally have Aunty Soerie’s original achar recipe, I had to try. The recipe was originally a Mango Pickle recipe but it works perfectly for kumquats or any other fruit or vegetable homemade achar.

Spicy Kumquat Pickle Achar

Tips to make the best Kumquat Pickle Achar

  • The same recipe may be used for mango pickles or dried fruit achar.
  • You may remove the pips when cutting the kumquats but this may destroy the fruit so I didn’t bother.
  • Ensure that the pot used for the vinegar mixture is large enough to add the tempered mixture to later without bubbling over and making a mess.
  • I used 1 cup white grape vinegar and 1 cup apple cider vinegar, although you may use only white vinegar. Do not use brown grape vinegar or all apple cider vinegar as it may make the end result a dark brown color.
  • I made a few adjustments to the original recipe and added turmeric and asfoetida.
  • I substituted fenugreek seeds, turmeric and asfoetida for methi masala or achar masala.
Spicy Kumquat Pickle Achar

Spicy Kumquat Pickle Achar

Razena Schroeder
Spicy Kumquat pickle achar is a hot, sweet and sour condiment that can be eaten with any meal and can be easily made at home using pantry staple spices.
4.44 from 32 votes
Prep Time 30 mins
Cook Time 10 mins
Soaking 20 mins
Total Time 1 hr
Course Chutneys, pickles, relishes
Cuisine South African Indian
Servings 40
Calories 188 kcal


Soaking ingredients

  • 1.5 litre water lukewarm
  • 15 ml bicarbonate of soda also called baking soda

Pickle achar mix

  • 1.25 kg kumquats
  • 25 ml salt, approximately 5 teaspoons
  • 5 ml turmeric powder, approximately 1 teaspoon
  • 60 ml chili powder, approximately 4 tablespoons
  • 30 ml cumin seeds, approximately 2 tablespoons
  • 15 ml coriander seeds, approximately 1 tablespoons, lightly crushed
  • 45 ml fenugreek seeds, approximately 3 tablespoons, coarsely ground
  • 500 ml sugar, approximately 2 cups
  • 500 ml vinegar, approximately 2 cups
  • 125 ml corn flour, approximately 1/2 cup
  • 125 ml water

Tempering mix

  • 375 ml sunflower oil, approximately 1 1/2 cups
  • 30 ml mustard seeds, approximately 2 tablespoons
  • 8 green chili’s slit
  • 10 cloves garlic half sliced, half grated
  • 5 ml asfoetida powder, approximately 1 tsp
  • 2 bunches curry leaves



  • Place the kumquats in a medium size non-reactive or plastic bowl and remove any fruits with mouldy spots or small lesions as this will cause the entire batch to decay.
  • Cover with 1.25 litres lukewarm water and add the bicarbonate soda and mix through until dissolved.
  • Leave the fruit to soak for 20 minutes then place in a strainer, rinse under running water and drain. This should remove any dirt, mould spores and other residues.
  • Allow the fruits to air dry or dry them lightly with kitchen paper before use.  

How to prepare the kumquats

  • Remove the green stem and slice each kumquat lengthways from the middle to the bottom end, without cutting them in half.
  • Place all the cut kumquats in a large non-reactive stainless steel or glass bowl, then sprinkle over the salt, turmeric, chili powder, cumin seeds, coriander seeds and fenugreek seeds.
  • Toss the fruits in the bowl to ensure the spices are distributed evenly and allow to sit while you prepare the other items.
  • Mix the corn flour and half cup water together in a cup ensuring there are no lumps.
  • In a large pot, bring the vinegar and sugar to a boil then add the corn flour and water slurry, whisking continuously to ensure it doesn't clump.
  • After 2-3 minutes when the vinegar mixture has thickened and the corn flour is cooked, add the kumquats and cook for a further 2 minutes on low heat to allow the spices and vinegar mix to infuse, then remove from the heat.

Tempering the spices

  • Heat a clean dry pot over medium-high heat with the oil and when it shimmers add the mustard seeds, chilis, garlic, asfoetida and curry leaves then reduce the heat to medium.
  • The mustard seeds will pop and the chilis, garlic and curry leaves may sputter so take care when tempering the spices.
  • This should take no more than 2-3 minutes and you must remove from the heat before the garlic turns brown or the spices burn.
  • Add the hot oil mixture to the kumquat and vinegar / corn flour mixture and mix through with a big spoon until it forms a thick emulsified coating.
  • Allow the kumquat pickle achar to cool before decanting into sterilized preserving jars.
  • Store at room temperature and up to 2 months before use. Refrigerate after use. 


  • The same recipe may be used for mango pickles.
  • You may remove the pips when cutting the kumquats but this may destroy the fruit so I didn't bother.
  • Ensure that the pot used for the vinegar mixture is large enough to add the tempered mixture to later.
  • I used 1 cup white grape vinegar and 1 cup apple cider vinegar, although you may use only white vinegar. Do not use brown grape vinegar or all apple cider vinegar as it may make the end result a dark brown color.
  • I substituted fenugreek seeds, turmeric and asfoetida for methi masala.


Calories: 188kcalCarbohydrates: 23gProtein: 1gFat: 10gSaturated Fat: 1gSodium: 408mgPotassium: 135mgFiber: 3gSugar: 15gVitamin A: 545IUVitamin C: 16.3mgCalcium: 42mgIron: 1.7mg

Disclaimer: Nutritional information for the recipe is an approximation and varies according to the ingredients and products used.

Keyword easy, gluten free, halaal recipes, spicy
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  • Reply
    March 28, 2022 at 4:53 pm

    Hi do you have to wait 2 months before eating it? Thanks

    • Reply
      Razena Schroeder
      March 28, 2022 at 4:54 pm

      Haha no. You can eat it as soon as it’s cooled down.

  • Reply
    Cedric DeAir
    December 3, 2021 at 6:13 am

    Visited a friend who Kumquat tree was overflowing, so brought some fruit home/.
    Its my first attempt at Kumquat pickle – Great recipe – shared with a few of my friends.

    Used an Indian achar mix which had Cumin, Coriander, Fenugreek , asafetida

    Great recipe – Thank you

    • Reply
      Razena Schroeder
      December 3, 2021 at 8:00 am

      You are most welcome. Happy you and your friends enjoyed the achar.

  • Reply
    Nireen Naicker
    August 22, 2021 at 2:19 am

    I had never made kumquat pickle till I came across your recipe.I absolutely love it,everyone who has tasted it likes it.I have tried it with dried fruit as well.Easy and delicious…Thank you😊🙏

    • Reply
      Razena Schroeder
      August 22, 2021 at 2:22 am

      I am happy to hear that you love it as much as we do. I really should do a dried fruit version for the blog. My mum and her friend used to make it with dried fruit and like the kumquat pickle we ate it with everything from biryani to curry to having it on sandwiches… or my favorite eating it by the spoonful as is 🤭

  • Reply
    March 6, 2021 at 9:45 pm

    When you say green chiles, which ones are you referring to?

    • Reply
      Razena Schroeder
      March 6, 2021 at 9:49 pm

      For this recipe I used birds eye green chilis, although you could use jalapeños if you want it less spicy.

  • Reply
    Amina Tootla
    May 31, 2020 at 8:24 pm

    Hi. I only have about 500grams. How do I divide the measurement?

    • Reply
      Razena Schroeder
      May 31, 2020 at 9:32 pm

      If you only have 500 grams kumquats, keep it simple. I would suggest you use half the pickle and tempering ingredients mentioned in the recipe. You will have more sauce in the Achar but that’s not a bad thing because it really is delicious.

  • Reply
    August 30, 2019 at 8:14 am

    I need to make a Turkish inspired grazing platter for 20 people and was wondering if this would be a nice addition. It looks lovely! I can imagine piling the spicy cumquates on top of a mound of labneh with fresh mint and a drizzle of honey. I have a tree loaded with Cumquats at the moment but they are the round ones (that look like perfect little oranges) not the oval variety. I imagine they’d be fine to use? I’m not a great fan of asfoetida so I’d rather not buy some just for this recipe because it’ll just be wasted afterwards. Would it be OK to leave it out and if so, could you recommend a substitute? I know it’s a flavour all of its own 🙂

    • Reply
      Razena Schroeder
      August 30, 2019 at 9:14 am

      The asafoetida does have a pungent smell but adds a lovely mild oniony flavor when cooked. My mother never used it and her kumquat achar was delicious without it. As for using it on a grazing platter, that sounds like an interesting idea and I can’t believe I haven’t done so before because I eat it on everything, even on sandwiches drizzled over labneh.

  • Reply
    May 9, 2019 at 5:01 am

    Tried this recipe. It came out delicious. Thanks a lot.

  • Reply
    October 14, 2018 at 10:04 pm

    Hi can we use tamarind pulp instead of vinegar? I normally don’t use vinegar as we are not used to it.

    • Reply
      Razena Schroeder
      October 14, 2018 at 11:10 pm

      I have not tested this recipe using tamarind water instead of vinegar, but we do have recipes where my mother has substituted vinegar for tamarind water when tamarind became scarce. I suspect you should be able to substitute tamarind water for vinegar as well. Let me know how it turns out if you try the recipe with tamarind water.

      • Reply
        Mayesh Soobyah
        August 8, 2020 at 11:00 pm

        I have just tried it thank you. It is delicious and tastes like a cooked apple curry. the curry uses tamarind instead of vinegar and ginger instead of garlic. I also left the asoefetida and the garlic out as i prefer it that way. But I used rice vinegar which is very nice.

        • Reply
          Razena Schroeder
          August 8, 2020 at 11:06 pm

          Apple curry sounds interesting. I’ve never had that before. Tamarind is a good substitute for vinegar and vice versa although the color would be darker.

  • Reply
    July 7, 2018 at 8:36 pm

    This looks so delicious, Razena! Thanks for sharing. I’m going to make it tomorrow, after I’ve had a chance to replenish my stock of curry leaves and pick up another punnet of kumquats to make it in bulk. Quick question however: is the corn flour really corn flour (like mealie meal/maize meal) or is it more like corn starch? Hoping to hear back from you soon! Saalams!

    • Reply
      Razena Schroeder
      July 7, 2018 at 8:39 pm

      Wa alaykum salaam Laurel. We also call it Maizena, but it is known as cornstarch or cornflour to non-South Africans :).

      Mealie meal would make a nice hot porridge, but is not suitable for this recipe.

  • Reply
    Jackie David
    March 27, 2018 at 6:08 pm

    Oh this looks so yummy. But i am not on spicy foods. It always ruin my tongue.

    • Reply
      Razena Schroeder
      March 27, 2018 at 8:58 pm

      The heat level depends on the strength of the chili powder used so can be moderate or hot. I used extra hot but found that it still turned out very bearable and the heat actually added to the deliciousness.

  • Reply
    bye:myself - a blog by renata green
    March 23, 2018 at 12:43 am

    I love all sorts of relishes and pickles and chutneys – and this one with the kumquats looks particularly good – I’ll try that out right away. Thanks for sharing this really inspiring recipe!

    • Reply
      Ingrid Clark
      November 1, 2020 at 9:27 am

      Hi Razena, pls explain 40 servings in the kumquat recipe. Tx.