Pickle Bites Man, Film at 11.
December 5, 2017 7:12 PM   Subscribe

What is this seed-like object in my Indian pickle? Here are two pics of them, one pic with one of them cut open. To splurge, I go to a local Indian restaurant (Chaat House in Redmond, WA). There, no matter what I get, I get the achaar, which is a sour Indian pickle. I love it so. It usually contains some ingredients that I recognize, like mango and hot pepper. However, there's always this small, green, hard object, that I've ignored - until now.

Today, I bit into it. I got an immediate 'lips tingling, burning and going numb' sensation, and about 10 minutes later, I started wheezing. I do have food allergies to the following: strawberries, walnuts, peanuts, and sulfites.

Taking my inhaler and having some coffee quelled the attack, but I only took a miniscule bite of the mystery object.

1. What is my little mysterious friend?
2. Is what I experienced 'normal', or an allergic reaction? Could they have been treated with sulfites? For the record, I can eat the rest of the pickle without issue.
3. Are they prevalent in certain cuisines? I've only run into them in Indian cooking, and then only in the pickle - and then in only some restaurants.

Thank you!
posted by spinifex23 to Food & Drink (14 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Response by poster: Here's a working link to the pictures: Mystery Pickle Friend
posted by spinifex23 at 7:12 PM on December 5, 2017

I think that might be a gooseberry.
posted by phunniemee at 7:16 PM on December 5, 2017 [1 favorite]

By ignored, do you mean you picked them out and discarded them or swallowed them without biting into one?

Have you considered asking the staff what they are?
posted by Bruce H. at 7:28 PM on December 5, 2017

Response by poster: I picked them out and discarded them.

And I'm going back on Friday, so I can ask then.
posted by spinifex23 at 7:36 PM on December 5, 2017

In multiple Indian and Pakistani restaurants I've had different dishes where they'll leave entire cardamom pods in the food. (The photos are obviously not cardamom pods, but it would appear to be a parallel practice of leaving inedible portions of ingredients in the food.)
posted by XMLicious at 7:45 PM on December 5, 2017

It's not a gooseberry as grown in Britain (I love gooseberries but very rarely see them here in California). Gooseberry seeds are much, much smaller, and don't have a hard shell. But there could be other fruit called gooseberries which I've never encountered.
posted by anadem at 7:55 PM on December 5, 2017

Aren't those unripened mangoes? That's what my Indian MIL told me.
posted by JenMarie at 8:02 PM on December 5, 2017

Not a gooseberry as I know it.

Based on both appearance and your note that your lips went numb - it might have been this sunflower relative that goes by the name of Sechuan button or buzz button. It does have a role in Indian cuisine. That's my #1 most likely suspect.
posted by Miko at 8:07 PM on December 5, 2017

Best answer: Other strong possibilities: Kair /Ker

posted by Miko at 8:20 PM on December 5, 2017 [2 favorites]

Maybe pea eggplant?
posted by glitter at 8:28 PM on December 5, 2017

Response by poster: In looking at all of these, Kair/Ker makes the most sense. It looks like that berry, and this description's exactly what I experienced:

Taste of Ker
Kairi is seldom eaten out of hand on account of its bitter, acrid taste. One bite inundates the mouth with a hot, peppery sensation.

Thank you!
posted by spinifex23 at 10:01 PM on December 5, 2017

Best answer: Ker are capers. You might keep that in mind for further allergen awareness.
posted by Emperor SnooKloze at 10:04 PM on December 5, 2017 [3 favorites]

Yep, definitely a caper berry. Also occasionally found antipasto platters.
posted by emd3737 at 2:31 AM on December 6, 2017 [1 favorite]

One more possibility, indian gooseberry or amla. Often used in achaar.
posted by Waiting for Pierce Inverarity at 3:29 AM on December 6, 2017 [1 favorite]

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