|Type||Condiment or salad|
|Place of origin||Indonesia|
|Region or state||Maritime Southeast Asia|
|Associated national cuisine||Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia|
|Main ingredients||Vegetables (cucumber, carrots, cabbage), shallot, bird's eye chili and yardlong beans, vinegar, dried chillies, pineapples|
Acar is a type of vegetable pickle from Indonesia, and popular in Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei. It is a localised version of Indian Achaar. It is known as atjar in Dutch cuisine, derived from Indonesian acar. Acar is usually prepared in bulk as it may easily be stored in a well-sealed glass jar in refrigerator for a week, and served as the condiment for any meals.
Pickling originated in India around 2400 BCE, and with expansion of Indosphere cultural influence of Greater India, through transmission of Hinduism in Southeast Asia and the Silk Road transmission of Buddhism leading to Indianization of Southeast Asia through formation of non-Indian southeast Asian native Indianized kingdoms which adopted sanskritized language and other Indian elements such as the honorific titles, martial arts, attire, and cuisine including adoption of Indian achaar pickle as atchara in Philippines and acar in Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei during the Indianised kingdom of Srivijaya (the Visayas islands are named after him).
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 recipes 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 acar is meant to freshen up a meal, especially fishy dishes 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 accompany grilled foods such as satay. Nevertheless, acar is can also be consumed 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 share colonial ties.
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).
With Indian and Malay slaves initially brought by the British Empire, Atchar became a favourite condiment in South Africa. The local variation is usually made with green mangoes.
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