This Piccalilli recipe is a mixed vegetable relish that is has a very distinct look due to its slightly spicy, tangy mustard sauce. It’s a British staple!
British people love their pickles. Many foods get pickled, from onions to eggs (yes, this is true). This popular British condiment is usually served with cheese platters, but can also transform a simple ham sandwich or used as one of the components of the Ploughman’s lunch. There are not really many dishes that this relish would not complement.
If you like spicy mustard, you will love this piccalilli. The vegetables used need to reflect the British nature of the condiment and that are easily available. I have seen mango and other ingredients used in recipe, but these are not typically British.
My choice of vegetables are chopped cauliflower, shallots, cucumber, carrots, and green beans. The vegetables are brined to remove moisture, then cooked and pickled in the sauce for at least 3-4 weeks. It is important that the vegetables are chopped the same size so they all cook at the same rate and this also makes for easier eating.
The sauce is a rich combination of vinegar, turmeric (which gives its distinctive color) mustard powder, ground ginger and nutmeg that develops deep flavor the longer it sits.
Piccalilli is traced back to the 18th Century and was originally called Indian pickle, which would indicate its origin. I would imagine since it is a low cost, easy food to make and lasts for months, was the reason it was so popular and has remained so to this day.