Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Tourshi (Tourshou)- Armenian Pickled Vegetables

When our daughter was in college in Tampa, we often made the tedious 4-hour drive to visit. It was always worth it to spend even a little time with her.

One spring weekend, she wanted to take us a nearby Persian restaurant for dinner with one of her college friends. The big draw? A belly dancer was scheduled to appear that night.

It was Saturday, so we made reservations to ensure a table for the performance.

The place was pretty empty when we arrived, but figured it would fill up closer to belly- dancing time. As we perused the menu, we spotted tourshi under “appetizers.” We’ve always been fans of the colorful, crunchy, tangy bite of the various fresh vegetables that become tourshi.

We place an ordered of the mouth-watering tourshi only to be told it wasn’t ready yet. When we asked how long before it would be ready, the server said, very seriously, “In a few weeks.” We nodded our heads in an understanding, yet disappointed manner, while Mandy’s college friend
gave a very puzzled look.

A few weeks? Was that a joke?

We explained that the pickling process takes time -- BUT, at least we would be entertained by the belly dancer. So, we asked what time the belly dancer was to perform. The server replied, very seriously again, “Oh, not until next autumn; her last performance was last Saturday.”

Next autumn? Boy, we were really batting zero here!

We did, however, enjoy our dinner - without tourshi, and without the belly-dancer.

I figured the belly dancer must have been making the tourshi. We decided to visit again during the next semester, when the tourshi and belly dancer were both "in season" - and calling first - just to make sure.

Anne Marootian’s Tourshi

Select fresh, firm, unblemished vegetables.
Wash all veggies before using.

Celery, cut into 2- to 3-inch pieces
Cabbage, cored and cut into small chunks
Carrots, cut in half lengthwise, then into 3- to 4-inch pieces
Cauliflower, cut into florets
String beans, ends trimmed
Green peppers (Italian frying peppers preferred), seeds removed and cut into chunks

Brine Ingredients
1 gallon water
1 cup kosher salt
1 quart vinegar (white or apple cider; cider preferred)

*** Boil the brine ingredients for 10 minutes.***

Additional Ingredients
4 to 8 cloves garlic, peeled
2 tsp. pickling spice


1. Sterilize 4 quart-sized jars and lids.
2. To each jar add 1 or 2 cloves of peeled garlic, and ½ teaspoon pickling spice.
3. Layer a variety of the washed, cut vegetables in each jar.
4. Pour brine over the vegetables in each jar.
5. Seal, and set aside at room temperature.
6. Tourshi should be ready in about one week.


  1. There is one Armenian store here in Glendale that sells homemade pickles. They add fresh tarragon to the brine. Gives it an amazing flavor.

  2. Would love to find the real dough for kadayif (or khaydeef), can anyone help? I've seen a lot of different recipes and what they describe is not the dry, shredded-wheat type product I used 40 years ago with Mom. They describe it now as a phyllo (filo) type dough and that definitely was not that type of dough. It was a tough shredded wheat, yet pliable, a really thin piece of 'dough' that looked like angel hair pasta when taken out of the package. I've soaked what they say in recipes, which is the phyllo (filo) dough, in a custard-type sauce before, but it ends up being really soggy. That is not the 'dough' we used 40 years ago. Any ideas on what it is exactly and where I can find it. I would love to make some. We used to put cheese in there, perhaps Munster or maybe just Armenian cheese, that I do not remember either, and I'm afraid Mom isn't much help to me any longer with regards to where to find things like this. I would love to make some though and send to her. She sure loved the choreg I had sent her and would just love to do again. It's not fun being out of state.

  3. Anonymous,
    If you could tell me more -such as where you lived 40 years ago, and where you live now, I will direct your request in a blog item so more readers will see this. You've tried the pre-packaged kadaiff dough without success?

  4. Do you process your tourshi in a hot water bath? I have made it 3 times now (slightly different recipien than yours) and have been experimenting. First time I processed it, second time I did half processed and half without, this time I did not process any. Some of my jars got milky and "bubbly", so I think they fermented. I got nervous and discarded them. I had made the brine in 2 batches, so I think I may have made a mistake in the 2nd batch.

    Curious to learn from your experience. I am trying to recreate my grandmothers results, but I have a long way to go :)

    1. It sounds like the batch that was bubbling did in fact start to ferment. This in itself isn't an issue. Fermentation in salt or brine is how things like sauerkraut, kimchi or kosher-style dill pickles are made. Indeed, there is a product that I just purchased that lets you easily ferment things in mason jars without having to worry about mold. (https://www.amazon.ca/gp/product/B01DJVVORE/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o03_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1) They are amazing.

      But I'm curious ... how did the jars that you processed turn out? Everything I've read lately about preserving and pickling is that processing is essential to ensuring safe storage of foods. In the case of this recipe, I'd say you could let the pickles ferment for the requisite time (a week?), then, drain off the brine, bring it to the boil, add it back to the jars, and then process them. A read in a book I bought on preserving that doing so shouldn't affect the texture of the pickles significantly. Though if you keep the fermented pickles in the fridge without processing, they should be ok as well.

  5. I have now logged it - the "unknown" question about Tourshi in a hot water bath was from me.

  6. great post but..a couple of fresh dill sprigs, and one or two( or more) hot fresh or dried chilis plus some garlic is more tradtional armenian addtion than pickling spice

  7. my grandmother used garlic salt vinegar and curry. she also added coriander flat leaf parsley for extra flavor. the veggies, any u want. it was ready in 2 days sealed jar.

  8. my grandmother used garlic salt vinegar and curry. she also added coriander flat leaf parsley for extra flavor. the veggies, any u want. it was ready in 2 days sealed jar.

  9. Do you pour HOT brine over the vegetables? or wait brine cool, then pour over the vegetables?

    1. Good question, thanks for asking! The answer, pour hot brine over the vegetables.

    2. Thank you very much for answering my questions!

  10. Do I Seal jar after brine is cool to room temperature or right ways after pouring hot brine over the vegetables?


    1. Pour hot brine over the vegetables which are stacked in the jar(s); allow veggies to settle in the hot liquid. Then seal the jar(s) while still hot. Store at room temperature as mentioned in the recipe. I hope this helps; good luck!

    2. I am so glad to hear from you! I sealed the jar while the liquid is warm. Next time I will seal jar right after I pour hot liquid to jar.

      Thank you very much!

  11. This looks like a wonderful recipe. I'll be pickling some Armenian Cucumbers using this recipe and have high hopes! Do you think that will work? How long are these cans good for? Is this something that needs to be used up in the next couple months or will it last longer? Thank You!


    1. Hi Andrea,
      As long as the cucumbers are on the small side, I don't foresee a problem. Generally, homemade pickled veggies will last around 3 to 6 months - just make sure the jars are sterilized. In most cases the tourshi is consumed too quickly to worry about storage issues. Good luck with your project!

  12. i have never boiled the brine, usually i just let it sit out of a couple to a few months and let it just cook under the sun, that, it comes out perfect, same recipe my family has been using for ages, so its perfect always!