The dish is typical of the traditional lowcountry kitchen, and it accompanies the area’s unique, elaborate rice dishes.
(ats jaar, achar). A bright ochre mixed pickle, this recipe is one of the world’s oldest, and its path to South Carolina was along the international spice and slave trade routes. Originating in Java, where each district has its own version, recipes for achar traveled through Asia and India, where the term is generic for both oil and brine pickles; to Madagascar, where pickled mangos were prized; to South Africa, where the Dutch imported Malaysian slaves; up the west coast of Africa, whence came South Carolina rice plantation slaves; and directly to Charleston. Only in the lowcountry does the recipe appear in English language cookbooks of the time. Harriott Pinckney Horry recorded her “Ats Jaar Pickle” in her South Carolina colonial plantation cookbook about 1770. It contains garlic (rare in English cookery of the period), ginger, cabbage, long pepper, vinegar, mixed fruits and vegetables, and turmeric, which is native to Java and gives the pickle its distinctive color. The dish is typical of the traditional lowcountry kitchen, and it accompanies the area’s unique, elaborate rice dishes. Throughout the first half of the twentieth century, Charleston restaurants routinely offered atzjar pickles before meals. The elaborate two day pickling process was out of favor for many years, but the recipe was revived with the resurgence of interest in regional foodways in the late 1980s.
Hess, Karen. The Carolina Rice Kitchen: The African Connection. Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 1992.
Hooker, Richard J., ed. A Colonial Plantation Cookbook: The Receipt Book of Harriott Pinckney Horry, 1770. Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 1984.
Taylor, John Martin. Hoppin’ John’s Lowcountry Cooking: Recipes and Ruminations from Charleston and the Carolina Coastal Plain. New York: Bantam, 1992.