This woman built an atchar empire out of a pickle


Amina Abrahams never thought making atchar would change her life. But the world is full of surprises – not always the good kind. All at once, her marriage fell apart and she was retrenched. Abrahams was hit with a conundrum. “I felt hopeless,” she says. “I knew I had to do something to survive.” Abrahams had no income and two young children to feed. She was desperate to stay afloat. So with a recipe handed down from her favourite aunt, Abrahams began selling pickles.

Though she had no background in business, Abrahams filled her first bottles with hand-cut lemon preserves and hoped for the best. Her survival depended on her atchar’s flavour. Blending aromatic spices, rich oils, and finely-chopped fruit and vegetables turned into a daily ritual. “It became a source of therapy,” Abrahams says. Soon, her mixtures were a favourite in her neighbourhood of Kensington, Cape Town. With the encouragement of her loved ones, Abrahams’ Exotic Taste began its journey to the shelves of local grocery shops. “I have made something of significance,” Abrahams says. “It empowers me, and my children, and the community at large.”

Today, the entrepreneur’s blends can be found in 51 stores across the Western Cape, with companies such as Shoprite supporting her success. “When life gives you lemons, we make lemon atchar,” Abrahams exclaims. Long gone are her days of striving alone. Her factory is filled with the chatter of 10 other people and painted with the pride of her community. The pickles are a mix of Abrahams’ sweet personality and the tang of her struggle, topped with the nostalgia of a timeless tradition. In sharing our heritage, we pass along our strength.

Footage by We Act For Change was used in the creation of this film.