In my home, we make only two kinds of pickles. Mango pickle in summers and now, with the onset of winter, the gobhi gajar achaar - spicy, sour, sweet cauliflower and carrot pickle. I'd try and get you my favorite mango pickle recipe sometime. But even this one was hard to pin down, requiring translation from best guesses to measurements. But here it is:
Separate 1 kg cauliflower into florets. Cut 1/2 kg carrots into long fingers. Wash the vegetables, then dunk them in boiling water for 10 seconds. Drain, then spread out on a tray and let dry in the sun for an hour or so. If you live in a place where the whole sun-drying business is not possible, you can try leaving them in a very low oven for a bit.
Grind 100 grams fresh ginger to a paste. Separately, grind 10-12 cloves to garlic to a paste. Combine 5-6 black cardamom pods, 5-6 cloves, a tbsp of cumin seeds and a tbsp of peppercorns. Grind all these spices to a powder.
In a separate, preferably stainless steel pan, mix a cup of white vinegar (the industrial quality is fine here) and 2 tbsp of jaggery or your darkest brown sugar. Bring to a simmer and cook just until the sugar melts completely.
Just to complete your mise en place and because you will need these in a rush later, measure out a tsp of rai (black wholegrain mustard), 3 tbsp of salt and a tbsp of red chilli powder.
Heat 1/2 cup oil in a really large pan and add garlic paste. Stir until it starts to brown slightly, then add the ginger paste and stir fry until it's browned. Reduce the heat and add the powdered spices, rai, salt and chilli powder. Turn off the heat and mix in the vegetables until they are completed coated with the spices. Pour over the vinegar-jaggery mixture. Let cool, then store in a glass jar.
Keeps for a month or so just like this, but I prefer to keep it in the fridge.