Next-Level Lemon Pickle From Tamil Feasts

Melbourne-based social enterprise Tamil Feasts (விருந்து), celebrated its third birthday in May! Since then, the CERES initiative has grown from preparing a traditional Sri Lankan feast one night a week, to feeding eager mouths every Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. So wonderful are their events, that some people have returned 12 times!

More recently, feast guests have been able to take tasty treats like Tamil Feast’s Chai and Lemon Pickle home with them. We share the zesty recipe for the latter, here today!


Tamil Feasts are typically held three times per week at The Merri Table, Melbourne. Photo – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files.

Lemon Pickle from Tamil Feasts. Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files. Surface and chopping board from The Establishment Studios. Styling – Annie Portelli. Styling Assistant – Ashley Simonetto.

Tamil Feasts crowd-favourite Lemon Pickle. Surface and chopping board from The Establishment Studios. Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files. Styling – Annie Portelli. Styling Assistant – Ashley Simonetto.

Tamil Feasts chefs (left to right) Niro, Richman and Nirma preparing a meal. Photo – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files.

17th of July 2018

We started out making our own lemon pickle to serve at Tamil Feasts. The customers loved it!

Then we decided to make a production run to sell at CERES Harvest Festival. This was a runaway success, so we now sell our pickles and spice mixes at all of our feasts – people usually buy a couple of jars at a time for gifts and for their store cupboard!

Our chai mix has been another crowd favourite, especially in winter. We are looking at branching out into more products for retail sale next!


1kg lemons, skin on and diced
200g salt (100g if you prefer less salty and also intend to eat within a week)

150ml vegetable oil
2 tsp mustard seeds
1 large onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped
2 tsp fennel seeds
2 tsp cumin seeds
2 tsp chilli flakes
1 tsp fenugreek

2 tsp curry powder
1 tsp turmeric powder
Fresh rosemary sprig


Place the lemons and salt in a pot and bring to the boil, and then cook on a low boil for 20 minutes.

In a separate pan, eat the oil and add the mustard seeds, heat until they pop.

Add the onions, garlic, fennel, cumin, chilli and fenugreek and cook for another few minutes until onion is soft.

Add the curry powder, turmeric and rosemary and cook for another minute, until the spices are aromatic.

Add the spice mix to lemons, combine and place into your favourite jars… and wait for at least 3-4 days, but the longer the better (this will allow the salt to infuse the lemons and mellow the very salty taste).

Note: You can sterilise the jars for extra shelf-life of the pickle.


How can you support Tamil Feasts?

‘Come along and enjoy a delicious feast, bring your friends, meet the guys and welcome them into the community! Sign up to volunteer and learn how to make the best curry in town,’ welcomes project coordinator Emma McCann.

‘Each night one of the men will share their own personal stories with our diners. They also love visiting tables and chatting with people about everything and anything. Through food and sharing their stories, they are breaking down barriers.’

Run by not-for-profit CERES, Tamil Feasts are very popular and bookings are essential. Check out the website for more information.

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