Şalgam is a root vegetable that grows widely in the Mersin and Adana cities of Turkey. When we look at the Turkish-English dictionary, the ‘Şalgam’ word means ‘Turnip’ in English. Most people think that it is equal to Turnip, however, it is not. Turnip is one of the ingredients of the ‘Şalgam’ beverage.
You can consider this beverage as a combination of Turnip, black carrots, red beet, and lemon salt. This beverage is as famous as Ayran, which is our national drink, in Turkey.
This beverage is widely consumed in the South and the Southeast regions of Turkey. It is because the plant grows in that region. Most of the kebab restaurants in Adana and Mersin cities offer Şalgam on their menu and it is even more popular than Ayran in the region. There are two types of it which are spicy and non-spicy one and usually most restaurants like offer non-spicy one to their customers.
Şalgam has a tangy and salty flavor that many people like to drink with ‘Rakı’ (traditional Turkish alcoholic beverage). If you are going to drink Rakı, you can consider this beverage as a ‘chaser’ drink. It helps to reduce the strong anise flavor of Rakı and it helps you to drink Rakı smoothly.
The Story of Şalgam
We don’t have any specific information about where it has been come from originally. We only know that Turnip vegetable commonly grown in temperate climates and Turkey’s South region has perfect weather conditions to grow this vegetable.
In Turkish cuisine, it is very common to make pickles from different varieties of vegetables such as carrots, garlic, cucumber, and cabbage. In my opinion, it has been found while making pickles because the process of making Şalgam shows similarities with making pickles. The only difference between Şalgam and pickles are the ingredients.
Where to drink?
When I go to Adana city, I usually stop by at ‘Yüzevler Kebab’. This restaurant is one of the best Kebab restaurants in the city and I strongly recommend this restaurant to you to eat Kebab and to drink Şalgam at the same time.
- 1 Large Şalgam Turnip
- 1 kg Black Carrot
- 1 Red Beet
- 1 tbsp Lemon Salt
- 1 tbsp Rock Salt
- 2 teaspoon Sugar
- 1/2 Loaf of bread
- 6 cups Water
Peel the Turnip and red beet first and then slice them.
Peel the carrots and divide them into fours.
Put the ½ loaf of bread into the cheesecloth and tie off the top to make a sack. Put the sack in the bottom of the jar and add the sliced vegetables into the jar.
Dissolve the lemon salt and rock salt in a separate container with two cups of water and then pour it into the jar. And then add the remaining water into the jar.
Close the jar lid tightly and keep the jar in a cool place to ferment for 15 days.
After 15 days passed, open the jar lid and remove the cheesecloth from the mix. It is ready to serve.
Tip: Keep it in the refrigerator and serve it cold.