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Purple pickled turnips

I first had these pickles in a Persian Restaurant in San Mateo. These pink beauties showed up automatically and I was drawn to them irresistibly. Pickles are an essential part of Persian cuisine and come in several varieties with the small gherkins being the most popular. From the Mesopotamians to the Persians and later the Ottomans, Bedouins and Berbers, pickles were held in high esteem. The Mesopotamians invented the pickling process 4400 years ago and from then, pickles became a very important part of the Middle Eastern diet. Some stories even say that Saladin, the great Muslim conqueror and hero of the Crusades, credited pickles for his vigour and health. Today Persian pickles are available quite freely in most stores. Other than gherkins, turnips, eggplants and garlic are some other classics.

This is a lovely pickle with light natural hues from the addition of beets. The pickle is tart from the vinegar and scented with garlic and spices mildly. These are used as a palate freshener and can be served as part of a cheese platter, or more often with heavily roasted or braised meats.

This book has languished on my shelf for some time. I bought it as almost every Spanish cookbook list has this book highly rated. After making this recipe I can see why. This book focuses on the flavours of the Moors and the Muslim conquerors of Spain, and the blend of these flavours and cooking techniques. The ability of the author to highlight the finer aspects of this distinct cuisine is what makes this book so wonderful. This book is a collector's item on any cook's bookshelf.

For more recipes from this cookbook click here.


2 large turnips

1/4 beetroot

1/2 cup red wine vinegar

1 cup water

5-6 allspice berries or 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice

10 black peppercorns

1 teaspoon salt

6-7 garlic cloves, sliced

Cut the tops off the turnips and peel them. Cut them into thin batons. Similarly, process the beets.

Mix the remaining ingredients in a small pot and bring to a boil. take off the heat and add the turnips and beets. Cool completely.

Add to a glass container and pickle for 1 week. Shake the container occasionally for the first week. It can be stored in the fridge for 1 month.

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