The term “pickle” means something here in the U.S. It’s a cucumber, that has been soaking in brine or vinegar. We also have pickled cabbage, pickled okra, pickled onions, pickled tomatoes and maybe a handful other sour delights. Persians love pickling, too, especially our vegetables. And these pickled vegetables are called torshi, which translates basically to “sour stuff.” If it’s torsh, it’s sour.
My mother-in-law makes her own torshi, but I’m a little lazy and buy a jar or two at the Middle Eastern markets. The varieties are endless, and many have herbs. My aunt makes a torshi with mango, too.
A few weeks ago I received an email from a reader, Libby. Libby’s husband remembered having eggplant torshi made with pomegranates when he lived in Iran. Libby was looking for this recipe and wanted to know if I had heard of it.
I have made torshi with my mother-in-law before. It’s pretty simple, but there is a lot of prep work and chopping. You see, you don’t make a small jar of torshi. You make enough for the whole street!
My grandmother and my aunt would make torshi with fruit, but never with pomegranates. So, I began my research.
In Iran, pomegranates are extremely popular. The Northern city of Saveh is famous because of the pomegranates grown there. Saveh produces an average of 130,000 pomegranates a year. They are large, juicy and sweet. They are considered to be the best pomegranates grown in the world.
And I suppose, they put pomegranates in everything, because Libby told me that the family friend who often brought this torshi were from Saveh. In my research on pomegranates and Saveh, I found this amazing book by Jacqueline Mirsadeghi, a Swiss photographer married to an Iranian and who has lived in Iran for the past 14 years. She is passionate and has been photographing the gorgeous region of Saveh. She has a book, too, Pomegranate Garden, which I just put on my list of things to buy. You should check it out, too.
Sigh. If I could only walk amongst those beautiful gardens, bursting with pomegranates… heaven on earth.
My husband quickly took over the job of creating our pomegranate torshi. Don’t get between an Iranian male and his comfort food. He made the torshi with eggplant, cauliflower and carrots. As our family likes foods more on the sour side than sweet, we used pomegranate concentrate and not molasses to the mix. In fact, since I have discovered pomegranate concentrate, specifically the Sadaf brand which is FANTASTIC, I have been adding it in everything! So now when I visit the Middle Eastern store, I buy 2 or 3 bottles at a time.
Torshi is typically served on the side, as a condiment. Libby said her husband’s family eats it with their baghali pollo (basmati rice with dill and fava beans). We eat torshi with everything: kabob, pollo even fried chicken! I had to snag the torshi from my hubby so I could quickly get a picture before he ate it all up.
“We have to make more of this stuff!” hubby told me last night. Agreed!
Disclosure: I was NOT paid to write this post. I do NOT get a commission if you buy the book, Pomegranate Garden. AND, I bought and paid for my own bottle of pomegranate concentrate!