Pyaz Ka Laccha (Raw Onion Relish)
These floppy, lightly pickled onions are a traditional accompaniment to grilled and tandoor foods throughout India and the rest of South Asia. There are different versions depending on the region, but all are seasoned with salt, spiked with chile (either powdered or fresh) and brightened with some kind of acid, usually lemon juice or vinegar. This recipe, adapted from “Madhur Jaffrey's Indian Cooking” (Barron’s, 1983), uses a combination of sweet paprika and cayenne for an earthy, nuanced flavor, and you can add the spices to taste, making this as fiery or mild as you like. Soaking the onion slices in water before mixing the relish helps soften their sharpness, but you can skip this step if you prefer a stronger onion flavor.
- Serves: 2 persons
- 1medium onion, preferably a sweet onion, such as Vidalia, thinly sliced (about 2 cups)
- 2tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice, plus more to taste
- ¾teaspoon kosher salt (Diamond Crystal), plus more to taste
- ¼teaspoon sweet paprika, plus more to taste
- ⅛teaspoon ground cayenne, plus more to taste
Step 1Put onions in a bowl and cover with cold water. Set aside to soak for 15 minutes. (This removes some of the onion’s bite, but you can skip this step if you’d like a stronger onion flavor.)
Step 2Drain onions and thoroughly pat dry. Return onions to the bowl and stir in lemon juice, salt, paprika and cayenne. Let sit at room temperature for at least 30 minutes for the flavors to meld before serving. Taste and add more salt, lemon and spices, if you like.
Step 3Use immediately or refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks. Serve alongside grilled or roasted meats and fish; stuff into sandwiches, especially grilled cheese or tuna salad; use as a topping for pizza, burgers and hot dogs; scramble into eggs; toss into salads, especially starchy grain and potato salads.