Left Mekhalel: Pickled turnips: لفت مخلل

On March 8th, Coptic (Egyptian Christians) started lent, which will end according to the Orthodox calendar on May 2nd, when Easter is celebrated. 

During the 55 day lent, Copts abstain from meat, fish, and dairy products and follow a strict vegan diet to detox their system and experience an austere lifestyle. 

To be honest, fixing vegan meals for 55 days is pretty challenging for non-vegan individuals and families.

For a smooth transition from a regular diet to vegan one, I strongly recommend two things:

1- Smart vegan grocery shopping: one to two weeks before lent starts, I have to pack my pantry with staples that are powerful enough to whip up a meal on a whim.

2- Leveraging the power of cooking assets, which jazz up mundane dishes and give them a significant upgrade.

Cooking assets are those little flavor bombs that come in all shapes and forms. They could be sauces, spice blends, infused oils, herb paste, compound butter, the list is long. Yet, these flavor bombs amp up the flavor in dishes and make up for the lack of meat. 

Pickles rank very high on the scheme of flavors bombs. Sneak a slice of these vibrant magenta turnips into your falafel or fava bean sandwiches and experience that kick of vinegar and the rush of a unique umami taste.

The key to making epic pickles all lies in the balance of acid, heat, sugar, and salt. Yet, in fact, this balance is defined so differently among cultures. The pickles in the Middle East tend to be on the salty side unlike their western counterparts.  

As for the process itself, pickling is one those techniques that mandates adherence to the rules. However one’s creativity could chime in to add extra flavors that come packed in chili, fresh herbs, spices, etc.

These Turnip pickles are so easy to make and the recipe is pretty straightforward. The beets are added to the pickle equation to lend their vibrant magenta color to the pale, white flesh of turnips.

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Pickled Turnips 


  • 1 kilo of turnips 
  • 2 beet heads
  • 3 cups water 
  • 1 cup of vinegar 
  • 1  tablespoons salt, iodine free
  • 2 cloves of garlic, whole 


  1. Prep the turnips and beets: Cut the beets and turnips into fingers. Sprinkle the turnips with some salt and let it discard its water overnight, over a fine mesh sieve.
  2. Make the brine: In a medium pot, mix the water and salt over a low-medium heat and let it boil until the salt completely dissolves.
  3. Make the pickles: Pour the hot brine over the beets and turnips and seal the jar with the lid.  keep it in a dry place for five days to one week.
  4. Serve it on a mezzah platter along with shawarma, falafel, and/ or Egyptian stew of fava beans.
  5. Store in the fridge once you opened the first time to use it.

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Former diplomat | Travel & Food Writer | Stauch advocate of Culinary Diplomacy. Find more here: https://cheznermine.com/about/

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