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  • Writer's pictureheutemalindisch

Sirka Pyaz - Pickled red onions Indian style

Sirka Pyaz (pickled onions) are ultimate topping, garnish and secret ingredient in Indian cuisine. "Sirka" means vinegar in Hindi and "Pyaz" means onions.

Pickled onions add a zesty finish to any dish, just like a favorite accessory can instantly elevate an outfit. This is a simple recipe that you can make the week before, the night before or an hour in advance.

Sirka pyaz take on an incredible texture. By soaking up the spicy brine, they become juicy but still retain a super crunch. They add unparalleled flavour and a beautiful magenta colour to so many dishes!

Sirka Pyaz, pickled with black peppercorns and coriander seeds, goes very well with North Indian dishes like curries, dals and biryanis. Their acidity, hint of spice and subtle sweetness, perfectly complement rich or spicy dishes and they can jazz up any dish that needs a little zing!!

Sirka Pyaz - texture, taste and colour

Pickled red onion slices have an addictive texture. They are tender, with a fresh, crunchy bite. They are juicy with brine and add a touch of tartness, subtle sweetness, and a brilliant splash of colour to any dish. Sirka Pyaz add flavor to everything from burgers to biryanis, dals, tacos, sandwiches, wraps and salads. This deep magenta pink looks so pretty on the plate!

Why we Indians love Sirka Pyaz?

  • A healthy and delicious way to include more vegetables in your diet.

  • Super simple and natural recipe. We like to know what's in our food and what's not. It contains no chemical preservatives, additives or colourings.

  • The added benefit of vinegar in the diet: vinegar is known to help regulate blood sugar and curb cravings.

  • So quick and easy to prepare, unlike the traditional canning method which requires special techniques and equipment.

  • Embellishes any dish with a hint of flavour and a stunning pink colour.

  • Guests are always impressed with homemade Sirka pyaz.

A Pantry-friendly recipe

This recipe requires only a few basic ingredients to make several batches, and the ingredients themselves are inexpensive. Once you try these pickled onions, you'll never want to go without it! While I wouldn't recommend using leftover brine to make a new batch, you can use it where you would use regular vinegar. Keep the brine refrigerated and use it the next time you make a vinaigrette for salad!


Do I need to use a mandolin?

Using a mandolin helps to ensure that the onion slices are thin and evenly sized. I find it makes slicing very quick and easy. Remember to always use the cutting guard that comes with the mandolin to protect your fingers. If you don't have a mandolin, just slice the peeled red onion in half and slice lengthwise into thin half-moons. This is a very forgiving recipe, so don't worry😉.

Do I need to use a glass jar?

Glass jars are highly recommended as they can take the hot brine well and no stains will remain. They also do not permanently absorb the flavors or smells of the contents.

Can I reuse leftover brine?

Although I wouldn't recommend using leftover brine to make a new batch as it doesn't have the same acidity, you can use it anywhere you would use regular vinegar. Try it out the next time you make a vinaigrette for salad 😄.

Can I also use sea salt for pickling?

Pickling salt is often used for canning and pickling recipes. I like to use sea salt as I always have it in my kitchen. Just like pickling salt, sea salt does not contain any additives or separating agents that help to make the brine clear.

Serving suggestions

These crunchy, spicy pickled onions can be paired with so many dishes. Here are a few ideas:

Indian dishes: Butter Chicken, Paneer Tikka, Tandoori Chicken, Tandoori Cauliflower, Tandoori Salmon, Dal Makhani or Biryani.

Burger: Masala chickpea burger, chicken masala burger.

Wraps and Sandwiches: Paneer Kathi Rolls, Chicken Kathi Rolls or Mumbai Sandwich.


Keep pickled onions refrigerated in an airtight glass jar for 2 to 3 weeks.

This is a super simple "jiffy ready" recipe. Simply prepare the brine, slice the onions, place in a jar, allow to cool, seal and store in the fridge. Using a mandolin to slice the onions makes this process even faster! There is no need to pre-cook the onions and no canning is required. Sirka pyaz is ready to enjoy in an hour and can be stored in the fridge for up to 3 weeks


  • 1 large red onion

For the brine:

  • ½ cup table vinegar

  • ½ cup water

  • 1 tsp black peppercorns

  • 1 tsp coriander seeds

  • 1 tsp sea salt

  • 1 tsp sugar (optional)


Put the ingredients for the brine in a small saucepan and cook until the sugar has dissolved.

Thinly slice the red onions with a mandolin.

Thinly slice the red onions with a mandolin. Place the sliced onions in a glass jar.

Pour the brine over the sliced onions.

Leave to cool to room temperature. Then seal the jar and refrigerate for at least an hour before serving.

Drain to serve.Keep leftover pickled onions refrigerated in an airtight glass jar for 2 to 3 weeks.


  • You can also pickle carrots and turnips with this recipe.

I look forward to hearing from you...

...if you like my blog, my recipes inspire you and your curiosity for Indian cuisine has been piqued.

Feel free to give me feedback if you would like to share your cooking accomplishments or have a suggestion for improvement. I appreciate any kind feedback. Whether via the comment function, email, Facebook or Instagram (best tagged with #heutemalindisch and @heutemalindisch, then your cooking success can also inspire others).



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