International Recipes and Cooking Around the World

Torshi

Jars of vegetable torshi

(Iranian, Afghan pickled vegetables)

Image Creative Commons by Vincenzo Raucci

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Torshi, or turshi, are simple vegetable pickles that add a punch of flavor to Middle Eastern, Eastern European and Central Asian meals. The name "torshi" derives from the Farsi word for "sour," and variations of the spelling included tur┼ču (Turkey), toursi (Greece), turshiya (Bulgaria) and turshu (Albania).

This recipe is for a simple mixed vegetable torshi of cauliflower, eggplant and carrots with a bit of a spicy, garlicky kick. It makes a good sized batch of vegetable pickles, but they will last up to six months in the refrigerator. Enough for oodles of delicious meals!

Makes about 6 pints or 3 quarts

Ingredients

Vegetables

  • Cauliflower, cut into florets -- 1 head
  • Asian eggplant, cut into rounds -- 3
  • Carrots, peeled, cut into 1/2-inch rounds -- 3

Garlic-Chile Paste

  • Red chile peppers, finely chopped -- 6 to 8
  • Garlic, minced -- 8 cloves
  • Kosher salt -- 2 teaspoons
  • Water -- 1/4 cup

Pickling Solution

  • Cider vinegar -- 6 cups
  • Water -- 2 cups
  • Sugar (optional) -- 1/3 cup
  • Kosher salt -- 1/4 cup
  • Turmeric -- 2 teaspoons
  • Peppercorns -- around 20

Method

  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over medium flame. Add the cauliflower to the boiling water and blanch, stirring often, for around 2 to 3 minutes to partially cook. Remove the cauliflower to a bowl or colander with a slotted spoon and cool quickly in an ice bath or under running water. Drain and set aside.
  2. Repeat the blanching process with the eggplant and carrots using the same water. The eggplant will only take about 1 minute. The carrots will require around 2 to 3 minutes. Gently squeeze any excess water from the eggplant. Set all of the vegetables to the side.
  3. Add the chiles, garlic, salt and water to blender or bowl of a food processor. Process until a chunky paste is formed. Set aside.
  4. Add the vinegar, water, optional sugar and salt to a large saucepan and bring to a simmer, stirring to dissolve the sugar and salt. And then stir in the turmeric. Take care not to boil the brine, or you will choke yourself out of house and home!
  5. Clean 6 pint or 3 quart canning jars very well and rinse under hot water. Add a big spoonful of garlic-chile paste to the bottom of each jar. Pack each jar with some of each of the prepared vegetables. Pour hot brine over the vegetables in each jar to within 1/2 inch of the rim. Add 3 or 4 peppercorns to each pint or 6 or 7 to each quart.
  6. Wipe the rims of each jar with a clean cloth or paper towel and seal with lids. Give a gentle shake to distribute the garlic-chile seasoning.
  7. Set the jars aside to cool completely, and then store at room temperature or in the refrigerator for about 4 weeks to cure the vegetables, giving a gentle shake every few days.
  8. Serve the finished torshi pickles with any Balkan, Middle Eastern, Persian or Central Asian meal. Torshi should last up to 6 months in the refrigerator if the vegetables are kept submerged in the brine.

Torshi Variations

  • Vegetables: All kinds of vegetables can be pickled for torshi. Some favorites are turnips, pumpkin, celery, green tomatoes, green beans, cabbage, pickling onions, bell peppers, beets, whole garlic. Use your imagination and what you have on hand and out of your garden.
  • Herbs and Seasonings: As with the vegetables, the types of herbs and seasonings you can use to add flavor to your torshi pickles is really only limited by your imagination and what you may have on hand. Add a couple springs of fresh herbs like dill, mint, tarragon, basil or oregano to each jar. Dried herbs work well too. Try using dried mint, dried oregano, mustard seeds, caraway, fenugreek, coriander seeds or kalonji (onion) seeds.

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