“Torshi Left” – Pink Pickled Turnips (Middle Eastern Condiment)

 

You wouldn’t know it judging from most Middle eastern eateries in the US, but bright pink pickled turnips (in many places called “torshi left,” or just “left,” which simply means turnip) is a necessary component for many meals all over the Middle East. No, there’s not some crazy pink variety of turnips; the color is achieved by adding some sliced beet, which then becomes cleverly impossible to distinguish from the turnip just based on looks. The texture will be firmer though.

On their own they’re good but packed in a falafel or schwarma sandwich, or paired with some spiced grilled meats, they add an acidity and crunch that will make you never want to miss out on this easy pickle again.

Also in this pita is my fermented schug (spicy condiment), fermented amba sour mango sauce, fermented hummus, shirazi salad, and sour garlic dill pickles (all are a must in my pita meals!). One of these days I’ll have to try the fries fermented.

This recipe is for a pound of pickles, fitting snugly in a quart jar. You can double the quantities and use a half gallon jar if you want a lot of these to last you, or you’re planning to make a big Mideast feast.

One quart will serve 6-8 as a condiment. It will last a couple months in the fridge or longer.

You will need:

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb. turnips
  • 1/2 a beet (use about 40-50g)
  • 1.5 cups filtered or distilled water
  • 2 TBSP kosher or pickling salt (45g)
  • 1/2 cup white vinegar
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 cloves garlic

Directions:

1.) In the saucepan, combine the water, salt, and bay leaf. Heat on medium heat and allow 4-5 minutes for salt to dissolve. Stir occasionally. Remove from heat and allow to cool.

2.) Meanwhile, cut the turnips into 1/2″ batons (strips, like french fries, or cut slightly wider yet thinner). Do the same with the beet, and then coarsely chop the garlic. Transfer it to the jar, packing tightly. (You may have a few extra turnip batons left over; make sure to put all the beet in the jar though.)

3.) Once the water has cooled, add the vinegar. Then slowly pour the liquid mixture into the jar until the top. Tightly seal it and allow to stand at room temperature for 1-2 weeks.

Notes:

  • Traditionally it is kept at cool room temperatures out of direct sunlight for 1-2 weeks before consuming, and might never be placed in refrigeration. However, if you will be eating this slowly over a period of several weeks or months, it will stay crunchiest if refrigerated after the initial room temperature pickling
  • Left at room temperature, you will notice some early bubbling consistent with lacto-fermentation. This is because the amount of vinegar isn’t enough to kill off the probiotic bacteria. However, fermentation will be more limited. (An airlock is not necessary and a fermentation weight is optional.)
The torshi after an hour
The torshi after several hours. But several days are needed for the color to fully penetrate the turnips.

If you make your own spin on this, please share on the Insane in the Brine Facebook Group!

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4 Comments

  1. Could you do a lacto version or is there a reason why you chose vinegar in this case?

     
    • You absolutely could & should. I only wrote the recipe this way to pay homage to the way it’s normally found in the mideast. I’ll probably go ahead and write some notes for fermenting it up on the recipe when I have time. Thanks!

       
      • I’m very new to all this (just tasted my first ferment a few minutes ago) but I am going to try a lacto version of your recipe very soon. Locally grown beets and turnips are in season! Thanks for building a great resource here!

         

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