Acar is a type of vegetable pickle made in Indonesia, Malaysia, and Singapore. It is a localised version of the Mughlai Achaar. It is known as atjar in Dutch cuisine, derived from Indonesian acar. Acar is usually prepared in bulk as it easily be stored in a well-sealed glass jar in refrigerator for a week, and served as the condiment for any meals.
The Southeast Asian variations are usually made from different vegetables such as cucumber, carrots, cabbage, shallot, bird's eye chili and yardlong beans, which are pickled in vinegar, sometimes added with kaffir lime to add citrus aroma, and also dried chillies. Some recipe might have the vegetables tossed in ground peanuts. Acar is commonly served as a condiment to be eaten with a main course, such as nasi goreng (fried rice), satay, and almost all varieties of soto. Just like common pickles, the sour taste of vegetables acar was meant to freshen up the meal, especially the fishy dish such as ikan bakar (grilled fish) or the rich and oily dish such as mutton satay to neutralize the fat.
In Indonesia, acar is commonly made from small chunks of cucumber, carrot, shallot, bird's eye chili and occasionally pineapple, and marinated in a sweet and sour solution of sugar and vinegar. Some households add lemongrass or ginger to spice it up. It is usually used as condiment to grilled foods such as satay. Nevertheless, acar is also can be made as a whole complete dish. For example ikan acar kuning is a fish dish (gourami, mackerel or tilapia) served in acar pickles of cucumber, carrot, shallot and red chili, mixed with yellow spice paste made of ground turmeric, candlenut, ginger, garlic and shallot. It is known as atjar (pickle) in Dutch cuisine, derived from Indonesian acar, since the Netherlands and Indonesia shared the colonial links.
Variations of Malaysian acar include Acar Awak or Nyonya acar and Malay acar. Acar Awak is more elaborate, containing additional vegetables such as eggplants as well as aromatic spices in the pickling mix.
The salad has also been adopted into Thai cuisine where it is called achat (Thai: อาจาด, pronounced [ʔāː.t͡ɕàːt]). It is made with cucumber, red chilies, red onions or shallots, vinegar, sugar and salt. It is served as a side dish with the Thai version of satay (Thai: สะเต๊ะ).
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