I have to admit that I am not a big fan of pickled foods but since they are an important staple of the Middle Eastern kitchen, I decided no discussion of Middle Eastern/Arabic cuisine would be complete without them.Pickling foods is one of the oldest methods of food preparation.It was introduced to the Arabs by the early Romans, Greeks, and Persians and considering the time period and location was the perfect solution for preserving foods for consumption at a later date.
All manner of fruits and vegetables can be pickled in the Middle East and to a lesser extent meat and fish.Some of the most popular are turnips,peppers, onions, olives, lemons, cabbage,cauliflower, and eggplants.Today, there is no longer a necessity to pickle foods at home because they are available from street vendors and neighborhood grocers throughout the Middle East but the practice still remains.
Pickled vegetables are usually served as part of a mezze or to accompany main dishes.They are fairly easy to prepare but require some time to be ready(a minimum of two weeks).The following recipe ,Kabees Left is one of the most popular Arab pickled vegetables. This recipe is from Claudia Roden's,The new book of Middle Eastern Food and takes just 6 days to be ready.
2 lbs. small white turnips
1 raw or 2 cooked beets, peeled and cut into slices
3 3/4 c water
3 Tbsp. salt
3-4 Tbsp. red or white wine vinegar
1. Peel the turnips and cut them in half or quarters.Pack the pieces in a clean 2-quart jar interspersed with slices of beets.
2.Boil the water with the salt and vinegar, and let it cool a little before pouring over the turnips and closing the jar.
3.Store in a warm place or at room temperature for 6 days, until mellowed, then keep in the refrigerator.