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Sealing His Talent into Bottles: Signature Pickles from a Former Bureaucrat

Former Comptroller and Auditor General of India, Rajiv Mehrishi has been actively pursuing his passion for pickle making, after retirement. He makes his trademark pickles and his daughter-in-law markets them under the name of ‘Pickley – Taste of Dada’. He makes over 20 different varieties of pickles, using organic ingredients, that are also onion and garlic free.
Indian Masterminds Stories

Retired IAS officer Rajiv Mehrishi needs no introduction. The 1978-batch officer has held several top posts in the government of India during his years of service, including that of Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG), home secretary, and finance secretary. 

Now that his journey as a civil servant has come to an end with retirement, he has embarked on another journey – an altogether different one, of following his passion and bringing his unique talent in front of the world.

In an exclusive conversation with Indian Masterminds, Mr. Mehrishi talked about this new journey that involves his passion for pickle making.

Mr. Rajiv Mehrishi

EXPLORING PICKLE MAKING

Mr. Mehrishi, who retired as CAG of India in 2020, is now following his passion for making pickles, which he picked up from his mother and grandmother. 

“I have not been taught how to make pickles. In fact, I haven’t even read a single recipe in my life. Pickle-making came naturally to me. I consider it a God-given gift. I experimented with it around three years ago and the pickles turned out to be successful. So, I just carried on with it,” Mr. Mehrishi told Indian Masterminds.

He also said that he doesn’t follow any particular recipe and certainly doesn’t use any measuring instrument to measure the number and quantity of ingredients he uses in his pickles. He adds everything with an approximate idea and it always turns out to be appropriate.

“I don’t know how much salt, methi dana (fenugreek seeds), saunf (fennel) should be mixed while making the pickle, I just guess the quantities and it works well.” 

THE STARTING POINT

Sharing his story of how he got into pickle making, he explained that during his deputation to Delhi in the Eighties, he was living in the capital city, far away from his home. During that time, one thing that he really enjoyed was pickles with his meals. His mother, especially, used to send him varieties of pickles, all the way from Jaipur. 

However, one fine evening, he realized that his stock of pickles was over and he really wished to eat some. So, instead of waiting for his next batch of pickles to arrive, he decided to do a little experiment himself and made pickles on his own.

“It turned out to be successful, much to my surprise! I enjoyed the process of pickle making a lot, and from there, it kind of stuck with me and I decided to follow this passion,” he said.

PICKLEY – TASTE OF DADA

Initially, Mr. Mehrishi made pickles for only his family. When they started enjoying them, he thought of sharing his pickles with his friends from the bureaucratic world. Everybody who tasted his pickles ended up praising them immensely.

Things took a turn for the better when around two years back after he retired, his daughter-in-law Astha Jain came to him with an idea. She proposed to him that they should commercialize his pickles, where he could be in charge of the production process and she could be in charge of the entire marketing process.

Thus, was born ‘Pickley – The Taste of Dada’, in collaboration with his daughter-in-law. She registered a website, got the bottles, and started marketing the pickles under this name. 

Talking about the unique name of the website, the retired officer said, “The Limited Liability Partnership (LLP) that my daughter-in-law registered for the pickles goes by the name Shaurya Pickles and Masalas. Shaurya is my grandson and I am his dada, so the name ‘Taste of Dada’ kind of got derived from there.”

NOT A MAN’S JOB!

Mr. Mehrishi’s mother was always skeptical of men entering the kitchen to cook. Whenever he showed any interest in cooking, she used to tell him: “Cooking is not a man’s job”.

He first tried his hand at cooking while he was in college and built an interest in it over the years. Decades later, his website now sells over 20 different types of pickles, ranging from brinjal, bitter gourd, jackfruit, nisoda (glueberry), aamla, dry dates, Chinese orange, green lobhia, and karonda to the traditional mango and lemon pickles of different flavors.

UNIQUE FLAVORS

The pickles and chutneys available at Pickley are “absolutely unique, made with original recipes, and are always extremely low in spice (unless asked for),” says the website. The pickles are also onion and garlic free.

Mr. Mehrishi uses high-quality ingredients for his pickles, irrespective of the expenses. He uses Balsamic Vinegar to coat his pickles, which is costly. Further, he uses only a certain type of mustard oil bought from a specific place in his hometown, Bharatpur. He has a machine at his home for grinding masalas used in the pickles. He never buys store-bought masalas for the purpose, but purchases whole quantities of them and then grinds them at home. 

“The ingredients that I use are of the highest quality. Also, since I don’t eat chilies, you won’t find spice in my pickles, unless asked for. They are made in a way that anyone can eat them without worrying about their spice tolerance level,” he said.

FOLLOW YOUR HEART

Mr. Mehrishi believes that it is extremely important for all civil servants to keep up with their hobbies and passion.

“A lot of us get so involved in our work and a social life that we totally ignore this aspect of our life, and when we retire, we get bored. Obviously, work comes first and should be given priority, but following one’s passion is equally important,” he told Indian Masterminds.

The retired officer’s pickles are quite popular within the bureaucratic fraternity, with senior bureaucrats like NITI Aayog’s CEO Amitabh Kant being a fan of his jackfruit pickles.


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