Rajiv Mehrishi: Finance Secretary, Home Secretary, CAG – and now pickle maker

Rajiv Mehrishi is a well-known name in the halls of power, having held several high-level positions during his four-decade career as a civil servant – from Finance Secretary to Home Secretary to Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG ) from India . What is not so well known, however, is his passion for making pickles, which are now marketed under the brand name “Pickley – Taste of Dada”.

Talk to The Indian Express from Jaipur, Mehrishi, who retired as CAG in August 2020, said he took up pickle making as a hobby when he was joint secretary in the 1990s.

“I started making pickles as a hobby. I didn’t take any recipes from anyone. I create my own recipe, according to my taste. I didn’t learn from anyone. The recipes are mine,” said declared the retired IAS officer in 1978.

“I don’t know how much salt, methi dana (fenugreek seeds), saunf (fennel) should be mixed together when making the pickle, but I guess the amounts, and it works well,” Mehrishi said. “Bhagwan ki den hai, woh andaz hamesha sahi baithta hai, galat hota nahin kabhi. (It’s a gift from God, the guess is correct, it’s never wrong),” he said.

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When he was younger, his mother, Vinita Mehrishi, told him that cooking was not a man’s job. Mehrishi first dabbled in cooking when he joined St. Stephen’s College as a lecturer in 1977 – he taught at the college for about a year until he joined IAS . “I used to cook in my apartment in college,” he recalls.

“Later, when I became joint secretary of the central government, I started making pickles. It was a great stress reliever. After working all week, I started making pickles over the weekend. It relieved me and made me feel better. It was very interesting,” he said.

“At first, my family liked the taste of pickles, then my friends liked it too. Thus, the amount of pickles kept increasing. My mother and maternal aunt also liked the pickles I made. I thought if my aunt was praising it, then it must be good,” he said.

About two years ago, his daughter-in-law, Aastha Jain, decided to market her homemade pickles under the “Pickley – Taste of Dada” brand. “She markets pickles. First she registered a website, then she bought some bottles and started doing all that stuff. I don’t do the marketing, she does it herself,” Mehrishi said.

The website lists over 20 varieties of pickles, including mango, brinjal, bitter gourd, chili pepper, lemon, jackfruit, etc., all prepared without onion or garlic. “We are vegetarians…we can make dishes without onion or garlic,” said Mehrishi, who has her ancestral roots in Bharatpur in Rajasthan. “I use homemade spices and mustard oil. I buy a particular brand of mustard oil in Bharatpur – it is expensive but I only use this oil,” he said.

Pickley is owned by a company named Shaurya`s Pickles and Masalas Llp which was established by Mehrishi’s daughter-in-law and named after her grandson, Shaurya.

Among those who vouch for Mehrishi pickles is NITI Aayog CEO Amitabh Kant, whose personal favorite is jackfruit pickle.

Virginia C. Taylor