Torshi ‘ye Bademjoon | Persian Eggplant Pickle

24torshi-bademjoon-Persian-Pickle-Iranian-food-recipe

You may remember that shirin (as in shirin polo ) is an adjective meaning “sweet” in Persian. Perhaps you even recall that Shirin is also a popular name for girls in Iran.

Torsh, in turn, is an adjective that means “sour” in Persian, and to the best of my knowledge, there are no Iranian girls running around who are named Torsh. Although, if you are an unmarried female of a certain age, some may call you a dokhtar torshideh, which stands for a spinster but literally means a “soured girl.” That certain age, by the way, used to be twenty at one time — to wit, this witty ditty:

dokhtar ke resid be bist
bayad be halash gerist

which loosely translates to:

if a girl is still a maiden by twenty
you should cry for her and plenty

And of course a girl was supposed to remain a maiden until lawfully wed. Ahem.

But back to our story!

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Torshi – as in “something sour” – is what pickles are called in Iran. They can be made with cooked or raw fruits, or vegetables, or herbs (or a combination thereof) preserved in vinegar and salt, and jazzed up with spices. Some types of torshi are ready to eat immediately after being prepared, while some require being aged (as little as a week or two to as long as seven years for a particular type of garlic torshi) before they are ready to be served.

A good torshi is a tangy, tasty, textured condiment that enhances the pleasure of the main dish. Iranians can’t get enough of torshi: it is an oft-present presence at sit-down family meals, and at least one type if not more variations of it are certain to be offered as part of the accoutrements of a typical festive Persian dinner party.

Torshi ‘ye bademjan is one of my favorite homemade Persian pickles. I appreciate the eggplant flavor and its soft yet slightly crunchy texture. It is by no means an effortless relish to prepare, but on the other hand, it does not require a panoply of ingredients and spices as some high-maintenance types of torshi are known to demand. Aside form vinegar, all you will need are a few good eggplants; plus a little bit of turmeric, black seeds (they look like black sesame seeds and are also known as black cumin or nigella seed), angelica powder, and corriander seeds, and you are good to go.

If you like eggplants and tangy condiments, you will very much enjoy this.

17A-torshi-bademjoon-Persian-Pickle-Iranian-food-recipe

Torshi-bademjoon

Ingredients

  • 3 eggplants
  • 2+ tablespoons turmeric
  • 1 tablespoon black seeds
  • 1 teaspoon angelica powder
  • 1 teaspoon coriander seeds
  • White vinegar (enough to moisten and get absorbed by the eggplant mixture)

Optional

  • 1 teaspoon dried mint
  • 1-2 cloves of garlic

Direction

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degree.  Wash and dry eggplants & puncture each a few times with a fork. (This prevents them from exploding while in the oven.)  Roast in the oven until the skin is crispy-crinkled and the flesh is fully cooked.  (Approximately 30 minutes.)
  2. Allow to cool to touch. While still warm, peel the eggplants, leaving the crown intact for the moment.  (It will be harder to peel them if they get cold.) Make 4 diagonal cuts in the flesh of each eggplant, pull open the sections (but do not disembowel) and discard as much of the seeds as possible.  Sprinkle eggplants liberally with salt.  Place in a colander above a big bowl allow to drain for at least 3 hours or even overnight.
  3. Discard the crown and remove any remaining seeds.  Chop eggplants into small pieces. In a bowl mix eggplants with turmeric, black seeds, coriander seeds and angelic powder. Stir with a fork and mix well, but gently.  (Don’t smash the eggplants.) It is normal if the mixture produces a bit of juice.  Simply stir to mix in the juice with the mixture.  Add more turmeric if necessary to get a nice color.
  4. Transfer seasoned eggplant into a sterilized jar and fill nearly up to the lid, leaving an inch. Add just enough vinegar to moisten the mixture and be absorbed by it, but not so much that will cover the mixture.  (You don’t want the mixture to swim in vinegar, just for it to be plumped out-moistened by the vinegar.)
  5. Optional finishing touches: add dried mint and a clove or two of garlic; stir to mix.
  6. Seal and refrigerate.

Serving

This torshi can be served immediately but it really comes into to its own and its prime (ja miyofteh) after 10-15 days.  If refrigerated, it will keep for a long time.

With Persian food, this torshi goes quite well with various types of kotlet and shami and goosth koobideh and abgoosht.  It will also be nice with herb-infused types of rice like bahgali polo and sabzi-polo.

To enjoy with Western dishes, torshi bademjoon is best enjoyed with rich and meat-centric dishes like pot roast which it will brighten; or with dry, somewhat bland types of food like chicken cutlet, which it will enliven.

Explore the possibilities!

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57 thoughts on “Torshi ‘ye Bademjoon | Persian Eggplant Pickle

    • Thank you dear Darya! I can say with 100% sincerity that I feel entirely the same way about your blog and recipes.

    • Oh please do! You always elevate food to poetic art form and I can only imagine how this recipe will fare in your hands

  1. This looks great! Last year I felt like I had eggplant coming out of my ears from my CSA share. It’s not my favorite vegetable to begin with and I had trouble finding new ways to use it. Every time I go pick up my share, I brace myself waiting for the cycle to start again but so far no eggplant. If I do come into some I certainly want to try this. The sour flavors sound amazing.

    • Melissa! How can you not like eggplants? They’re only one of the most succulent veggies out there. If eggplants do make it to your pantry, and you like pickles and relish, I think you’ll like it. It’d go really nicely as a relish with your wonderful pulled pork actually

      • I didn’t like eggplants, either, when I was a kid, but now I love them! It had to do with the skin and seeds, I think. That’s why your recipe is perfect! Just love Persian food! So glad I found your blog!

      • Yes eggplants don’t look very pretty at all but are pretty on the inside where it counts! : ) I’m really happy you found me too Novice Gardener – I look forward to exploring your blog.

    • We call angelica “golpar” and also use it to sprinkle on pomegranate arils … not my preference actually but it’s a traditional thing to do … and also use it on cooked fava beans. This eggplant pickle I’m pretty sure you’ll like and it’ll be really really nice with meat and pasta dishes. That’s actually one of my favorite ways of pairing it because it cuts the starchiness of the pasta and heaviness of meat.

      Let me know if you make it!!

    • That’d be great! I’d love to know more about your Indian style recipe for roasted eggplants. Let me know if you have your recipe already posted? I love using eggplants in every which way.

    • You and me both Fae, that torshi would not have a fighting chance if it’s at the table with either of us. Also: I’m chuckling over the fact that the opener gave you chuckles! 🙂

  2. I find the literal translation of spinster simply brilliant! What a perfect concept! I really like the rhyme too!!!
    The recipe is simple yet great! I love eggplants. I can totally see your torshi perfectly complementing many meat dishes. F. Xx

    • It does have a sharp acerbic initial punch taste but it’s more than that and altogether makes for a pretty versatile condiment. I feel comfortable recommending it if you’re ever in the mood and have some eggplants

  3. Isn’t it odd. I’ve read about removing seeds from aubergine but the ones I buy never have them. Perhaps they’re cultivated that way. Anyway, the photo of your gorged aubergine is positively macabre! Love it 🙂
    – Would love to try this but there’s little to no chance of buying angelica (which I grew only ever once years ago – majestic plant). Any sub that you would recommend?

    • Johnny, the gorged eggplants were a favorite of mine too. So macabre as you put it! 😉

      You know, let me consult with the grand chef (my momma to be exact) and see if she’s any suggestions re subbing ground angelica. but personally I would say if you add the dried mint it should be OK if you skip the ground angelica.

  4. I must admit to laziness, I mostly buy my pickled veggies and I love pickled garlic! Iranian manufactured brands can be found here if one looks hard enough. Can you define the “black seeds”? Nigella or black sesame or mustard? Eggplants/aubergines in my experience tend to have seeds when they are older. I have long ago stopped salting eggplant to “remove bitterness” BTW as IMHO opinion that has been bred out some time ago although older ones can be a little so. Lesson: buy ’em fresh and use ’em quickly.

    • Ross I think black seeds and Nigella seeds are one and the same. I may do an entire post about this particular spice however so keep posted!

      Interesting what you mention re salting eggplant. My mom is adamant about it but I’ll follow your example next time and see if indeed bitterness has been harvested out of the modern eggplants … which would be convenient if true and yet rather frightening that they’ve messed with a natural flavoring of the vegetable.

    • Do you also say batenjoon? Because we say bademjan (formal) and bademjoon (informal) … and agree, finding these links in food, culture, rituals and lingo is one of the funnest joys of writing/reading food blogs.

  5. Very interesting! I expected that the eggplant would be cut into spears to look like what I associate with American pickles made with cucumbers. Never seen a pickle spread! I bet this is delicious.

    • Hi Vernoica! If you crave something sour now you have options! 🙂

      I like how you put it that this is a pickle spread, because you’re right, that’s what it is. I really really think you’ll like it if you try it.

  6. I love torshi, had it on the table with just about every meal. I love the tart and tangy pickled vegetables. I have never had eggplant torshi before, I totally feel deprived. It sounds so good and really is simple to make. Need those black seeds (Nigella) have everything else.

    • Oh you’ve got to try it Suzanne. You know what, I think this will be acutally really good with loobia polo (if the loobiya polo is made with meat and not chicken)

  7. Yummy, yummy, yummy, this is love in my tummy.
    I completely forgot about this and I don’t know how, because t’s one of my all time favorites. My sister-in-law used to give me a jar on the side,(yavashaki), because it’s embarrassing to hear a grown woman moan in delight over torshi.
    Thank you, my gloriously wonderful Azita Jooooooon.

  8. Oh Yvonne, what can I say except that you delight and make me laugh every time I read anything by you and from you on whatever platform.

    • I have to admit, I continue to be infatuated with it as well. And it even has an equally adorable red colored sibling!

    • Hi Jimmy! Thank you for visiting and commenting. Do I have good news for you or what but here’s the recipe for fesenjooooooooon: https://figandquince.com/2013/02/28/khoresh-eh-fesenjoon-pomegranate-stew/ 🙂

      Do let me know if you make it, OK?

    • On its own its too tangy but with food it really shines and agreed that the texture is quite pleasing. You should try it! 😉

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  10. It’s happening now, eggplant pulp draining. They were young and fresh (like someone’s dates) so few seeds and those palatable.

    I was reminded of a promo from local SBS TV where the cook says that they were so poor in Lebanon that her mother would give her the crown of the baked eggplant as a treat. In fact they were quite tasty but my grandkids would revolt if I tried that.

  11. Oh, I wish I read this post yesterday Azita! I actually made an eggplant pickle to go with a goat curry that I made… I ‘winged it’ and added similar ingredients to this (coriander, mint, lemon juice, olive oil, a pinch of turmeric and some chilli) but I felt that there was something missing. Must be the angelica, black seeds and garlic! My pickle was very nice but I’ll be trying this version next time. Love it. Ah, I am so infatuated with Persian food (one day I am going to do a giant feast at our house, catered with recipes from your blog!) xx

    • Ah! Wouldn’t that be something? If we could do a giant bloggers feast and all meet in person?
      So looks like we were on same wavlength. Your pickle eggplant sounds great actually. But wait … goat curry? … never would have seen that coming. expect you’ll blog about it?

      • I actually didn’t take any photos of the goat curry! I do intend to blog about it eventually though. It was delicious, cooked for 6+ hours til the meat fell off the bone. It’s not my normal cuisine but my husband loves curry so it was well received 🙂 And YES, I wish we could have a giant bloggers feast! Would be so wonderful to meet! xx

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