torshi (pickled veggies)

torshi (pickled veggies)

I’ve got a magic trick for you: put some torshi in a little bowl at your next dinner party, and watch it disappear as you refill it over and over again. These wonderful pickled veggies add the perfect little bit of crunch and acidity to any plate, and I’m so excited to finally share this one with you guys. While you should definitely stick to the salt/vinegar/water ratios in the recipe below, I left the flavorings open to adaptation, so you can feel free to add your favorite torshi spices to your batch. I prefer a blend of caraway and coriander seeds, but you can totally go for whatever combination sounds good to you (I listed a few options in the recipe).

This recipe has been a long time coming. I started developing it when I first started blogging almost three years ago, but I never got around to asking my grandmother to do a cooking demo until last summer. Then finally, after some tinkering, I developed and tested this written version of her recipe. I’m so glad I got some shots of my grandmother in her element, carefully preparing all the veggies and walking me through the process.

Keep in mind that these are refrigerator pickles, and not fermented pickles, so they need to be kept chilled. That said, they do last for quite a long time. Maybe I’ll eventually develop a more traditional fermented torshi recipe (gimme another three years, k?), but in the mean time, I hope you guys enjoy this easier version my family has been making for years. They’re so delicious, and have a super smooth, almost buttery flavor.

Oh also, totally unrelated to torshi—I just wanted to say a big thank you to everyone who has messaged me or commented on IG/Facebook to welcome us to Melbourne. We feel so at home, and we are so excited to get to know our new city a little better. And I can’t wait to get back to recipe developing in my new kitchen once we move into our apartment next week!

torshi (pickled veggies)
torshi (pickled veggies)
torshi (pickled veggies)
torshi (pickled veggies)
torshi (pickled veggies)
torshi (pickled veggies)
torshi (pickled veggies)
torshi (pickled veggies)

torshi (pickled veggies)

yield: 5 quarts of pickles
active time: 30 minutes
total time: 3 hours
download a
PDF to print

  • 1 kg cabbage cut into large pieces (from 1 medium or 2 small heads)

  • 450g peeled and sliced celery (from 1 large bunch celery)

  • 400g peeled and sliced carrots (from a 1 lb bag)

  • 1175g water (5 cups), plus more for boiling

  • 70g salt (1/4 cup)

  • Your favorite torshi pickling spices (e.g., caraway, coriander seeds, and/ or turmeric), to taste

  • 590g apple cider vinegar (2 1/2 cups)

  • 1 650g container giardiniera peppers (23 oz), brine reserved *

  • 5 1-quart mason jars

  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the cabbage, and simmer for 6 minutes. Fish the cabbage out with a mesh spider or slotted spoon (don’t dump out the water), place in a colander, and shock under cold water immediately until it’s cooled down. Move to a large mixing bowl.

  2. Repeat with the celery, simmering them for 3 minutes, then shocking them. Repeat with the carrots, simmering them for 4 minutes, then shocking them.

  3. Bring the 1175g/5 cups water to a boil. Add the salt and pickling spices (if using), remove from heat, and stir until the salt has dissolved. Add the vinegar and brine from the giardiniera peppers to the salt water.

  4. Mix together the blanched cabbage, celery, carrots, and giardiniera peppers. Stuff the jars with the veggie mix. Shake the jar slightly and nest the ingredients together to help the contents settle. Top each one with the brine, making sure everything is completely submerged (press the veggies down with a spoon if they are not compact enough). Screw shut, and refrigerate. Pickles should last in the refrigerator for at least 2 months, and are best after the first 24 hours (but are still very tasty even after about 2 hours of pickling). Discard them if they start to look or smell off.

* Feel free to leave out the hot peppers altogether. You’ll end up with less pickles, but the ratio of brine:veggies will hold constant without the hot peppers.

torshi (pickled veggies)

amba slaw

amba slaw

I recently wrote a bit about the shared culinary roots of a few of my favorite South Asian and Middle Eastern dishes. The article focused mostly on biryani, but I also briefly mentioned one of my favorite Iraqi foods: amba! Amba originated as pickled mango in southern India (and it continues to be pickled mango in door of my grandmother's refrigerator), but I learned from my friend Sham that in Iraq, amba can be just about anything pickled in a fenugreek brine. It's one of those foods that's always developing and adapting to include different veggies.

This salad is inspired by some of the veggies typically used to make amba in Iraq, like cabbage, mango, and carrot. But instead of turning them into a traditional pickle, I shredded the cabbage and turned it into a bright summery slaw, with a fenugreek vinaigrette. While this salad is primarily inspired by Iraqi amba, it might also remind you a little bit of Vietnamese green mango salad. In fact, I'm pretty sure that's what inspired me to add fresh cilantro to it. It's vegan, gluten free, healthy, not too expensive, and it goes with just about everything. I can't possibly list all the things, but I'll name some of my favorites:

amba slaw
amba slaw

This slaw is the perfect side dish to liven up a monochromatic meal. Bring it to any pot luck, and everyone's mood will instantly brighten. It's a fabulous topping for a black bean burger, especially with a sesame bun. It's so delicious on fish tacos (oh my gosh, now I'm having regrets about not making this a fish taco with amba slaw post). And I haven't actually tried this idea yet, but I have a feeling it would be delicious in fresh spring rolls.

The dressing in this salad is basically a less acidic, much mellower version of the brine that I use to pickle mangoes. Even though it's not mouth-puckeringly tart (something you want in a pickle, but not so much in a salad), it still gives me all the amba feels, and it's one of my favorite things about this recipe. In fact, I recently served this to some friends who have two little kids, and their one-year-old spent the whole dinner just sucking the dressing off of the mango pieces, so it sounds like this one is a winner (I know pretty much nothing about children, but I do know that they're honest and don't like most foods, so that feels like a definite success).

amba slaw

amba slaw

download a PDF to print
serves: 8 as a side

active time: 10 minutes with a food processor, 20 minutes by hand
total time: 25 to 40 minutes

  • 10 ounces red cabbage (about 1/2 of 1 head), shredded*

  • 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar

  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice

  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

  • 1 teaspoon yellow curry powder**

  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper (or to taste)

  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

  • packed 1/4 to 1/2 cup cilantro leaves (to taste)

  • 1 pound semi-ripe mangoes (about 2 mangoes), julienne or cut into match-sticks***

  • 12 ounces carrots (about 2-3 carrots), julienne or cut into match sticks*

  1. Soak the cabbage in cold water while you're prepping the rest of the ingredients (this will prevent its color from unattractively bleeding). Strain, rinse, and dry it after about 10 to 30 minutes.

  2. Combine the apple cider vinegar, lemon juice, extra virgin olive oil, yellow curry powder, crushed red pepper, and salt in a salad bowl.

  3. Whisk the salad dressing together, and then immediately pile on the dried cabbage, mango julienne, and carrot julienne. Toss everything together a few times, then add the cilantro leaves and toss together until everything is coated evenly.

* To make it easier to shred the cabbage, feel free to use a food processor. Use the slicer attachment for the cabbage, and use the grater attachment for the carrots. Make sure you always use the plastic pusher to send veggies through the feed tube.
** Try to find a blend with fenugreek in it to make this really taste like amba, or mix up a batch of my yellow curry powder, which has a decent amount of fenugreek. But if you can't find a curry blend with fenugreek seeds, it'll still taste delicious.
*** Whatever you do, don't use super ripe mangoes, which will turn to mush when you mix everything together. Amba is made from unripe green mango, so it's better to err on the side of unripe for this recipe. When I developed this recipe, I used semi-ripe mangoes, which were still firm but yielded very slightly to pressure (they're not hard as rocks, but they're definitely not soft).

amba slaw