Christine Datian contributed the following piece to The Armenian Mirror-Spectator last April, and has offered to share it with The Armenian Kitchen. Thank you, Christine!
Armenians and Middle Easterners have been pickling vegetables (toorshi, tourshi, or torshi) for thousands of years. Some say this method has been a most- effective way of preserving them.
Not only are homemade assorted pickles simple to make, they can easily be customized. Pickled vegetables can be added to salads, and they make a delicious addition to vegetable platters or served as a lunch or dinner appetizer, says Lena Tashjian, writer, vegan recipe developer, and author of The Vegan Armenian Kitchen Cookbook.
Tashjian is based in Toronto, and Siroon Parseghian, the photographer and creative director, is based in Los Angeles.
Try their updated recipe to have a delicious jar full of crunchy goodness on hand any season of the year, and feel free to get creative. Make your own pickled vegetables with just a few minutes of preparation. Lena says that the outcome of this recipe depends on the quantity of vegetables and the size of the jar you use, so use enough vegetables to completely fill up the jar of your choice.
Lena Tashjian’s Toorshi Recipe
- 1 cup or 1 handful of dried chickpeas
- A few large cloves of garlic, peeled but left whole
- Other optional seasonings: sprigs of parsley, dill, oregano, tarragon, thyme, etc.
- Celery stalks, cut into wedges
- Cauliflower, with florets separated, cut into chunks
- Carrots, cut in half length-wise, then cut into 3 or 4-inch pieces
- Kirby (pickling) cucumbers, sliced
- Jalapenos or chili peppers, sliced (remove seeds if you find it too spicy)
- Cabbage, cored, cut into small chunks
- Green peppers (Italian frying peppers preferred, seeds removed, cut into chunks)
- Crushed red pepper flakes, optional
- Sliced lemon (peel or remove some of the rind to avoid a bitter flavor), optional
Also add: turnips, small eggplants, green tomatoes, whole green beans, and jicama to this recipe. To give vegetables a beautiful color, add a small amount of beetroot, peeled and sliced into discs. Beetroot is often added to Armenian pickles for color, which is similar to how they are made in the Middle East. Beetroot gradually turns everything a deep pink. Toorshi should keep for several months unopened.
3 cups of boiled water that has returned to room temperature
1 cup white vinegar
2 tablespoons pickling salt
1/2 teaspoon citric acid
3/4 teaspoon sugar
Sterilize the jar and lid. Add chickpeas to the jar first, and then toss in the peeled garlic cloves.
Wash, slice or chop all vegetables and put them in a large bowl. Mix vegetables together in the bowl with your hands and transfer them into your jar.
In the same bowl, pour in the 3 cups of water.
In a separate bowl or cup, mix vinegar and salt until the salt completely dissolves. Add this to your water and stir. Add in the citric acid and sugar and stir.
Taste the brine to ensure the vinegar/salt ratio is ideal.
Pour brine into the jar of vegetables and use a spoon or thin plastic spatula to release air bubbles by pushing down the sides all around the jar. If more brine is needed, make another batch.
Use leftover cabbage leaves or celery tops to keep the vegetables under the brine. Seal the jar.
Label the jar and set it aside at room temperature for at least 1-2 weeks (or longer), then transfer the jar to the refrigerator.
Shake jar a few times for the first couple of days to distribute spices.
Storage: Pickled vegetables should keep in the refrigerator for about 2 months. Towards the end, the water is a lot more cloudy, but the vegetables are still crisp though not quite as good as at the beginning.
Watch Lena’s Toorshi Video:
‘The Vegan Armenian Kitchen Cookbook’ highlights the authentic plant-based cuisine of Armenia and the diaspora, and also includes some veganized classics. “We are proud of our commitment to bringing awareness to the wide variety of Armenian foods available that are naturally free of animal products, as well as the history, stories, and folklore behind them. With a general shift towards plant-based eating on the rise, we are excited to bring some much-needed diversity to the vegan food scene,” says Lena. “We are also happy to be donating a portion of the proceeds of every cookbook sold to Centaur Animal-Assisted Therapy & Rescue Center, an NGO located in Armenia.”
‘The Vegan Armenian Kitchen Cookbook’ is just $35 each. To order your copy, click here.