Skip to main content

Featured Post

My cookbook: "Tehran to New York"

On the Norouz day of 2020 spring, I finally published my book. The manuscript is titled: "Tehran to New York: A culinary bridge between Persian and Western cultures" and aims at presenting a unique blend of classic and contemporary Persian recipes, as well as samples of Western-style cuisine, offered in a Persian context. It is important to build bridges between cultures, and not walls. This book aims at constructing a bridge between the Persian and Western cultures. The book may be ordered here:  

Shoor; Iranian style salt-cured vegetables

In Persian cuisine two different styles of pickle exist; salt-brined, and vinegar-based, namely. With a singular lack of inspiration, the former is called "Salty" (Shoor in Farsi); and the other is called "Sour" (Torshi in Farsi). The answers to the question of  "which one does reign supreme?" differ. I personally like Shoor as its taste is less invasive. Furthermore, it makes a fantastic healthy snack, if one turns a blind eye on the salt content.
The presented recipe is from the Azari region of Iran and was passed to me by my dear cousin. The vegetables in this pickle are brined in a highly salty (7.5%) and slightly acidic solution. Interestingly, the process relies on raw chickpeas and sourdough bread to kick start the fermentation, likely as the result of high salt which might halt the fermentation process.

2.2 Pounds (~1 kg) vegetable of choice*
5% to 7.5% Kosher salt**
1 medium bunch of tarragon (and Summer Savory, if can find)
1 head of garlic
6 green hot peppers (optional)
1 small piece of sourdough bread***
A handful of raw chickpeas
1 cup white vinegar
4 cups bottled spring water****

* common items: pickling cucumbers, cauliflower, carrot, celery, among others
**  Weight of salt to the weight of vegetable percentage. In this recipe, the weight of salt will be 50 to 75 gr. The higher bound of salt results in saltier final products that are used as a sandwich condiment.
*** This is to start the fermentation process. Make sure the bread is not of the type that has oil as an ingredient.
**** Tap water most likely will have undesired minerals which may react with some of the ingredients. A famous example of using hard water is the resulting blue garlic in some cases; which although not harmful, might not be visually appealing.
Boil 1 cup of the water, the salt, and vinegar in a clean and pre-washed saucepan and let cool. Cut the vegetables of choice into proper pieces and arrange in a clean (preferably boiled) glass jar. Add the chickpeas, garlic cloves (skins removed), herbs, and peppers (not used in the pictures). Add all the salt solution and fill up the jar with the rest of the water. Depending on the size of your jar and the empty space between the vegetable pieces you might end up not needing all the rest of the water. In other words, your salt concentration of the brine solution might vary but the weight ratio of salt to vegetable is always fixed. Cover the surface with bread, making sure the bread layer is fully submerged. Tightly seal the jar and put in a dark and cool place. The temperature should not exceed 80F (~26C). Depending on the temperature, pickles should be ready in 5 to 10 days. Once the bubbling starts, it is a good idea to let the CO2 out by slightly loosening the lid once a day.
The top panel compares the effect of not adding bread and chickpeas (right jar) vs adding them (left jar). The pickles with bread and chickpeas in the brine exhibited a far more complex depth of flavor. Also, as it is common to serve falafel with beet pickled turnips in the Middle East, I made a pickle sample with beet added in. The pink pickled cauliflower pieces were stunningly beautiful, to say the least.
Pickles cucumbers are reputably popular in Iran and as a mandatory sandwich condiment. I tested this recipe with cucumbers and also celery and carrots. The results are phenomenal and, thereby, highly recommended. Use the higher bound of salt for pickled cucumbers.