Shami (Cutlets) & Torshee

Nura’s recipe

Shami is similar to the American hamburger. It is served with torshee, a very potent homemade pickle/chutney (a recipe follows). You may wish to try using commercially-made chutney, as torshee takes one year to age properly! Shami is delicious served with fried sliced potatoes.

Servings: About 6

Ingredients for shami

1 lb. lean ground beef

1 1/2 c. mashed potatoes

1 egg.

1 onion, pureed

1 tsp. salt

Dash cinnamon


Step 1: Mix all the ingredients together. Form into patties about 4 inches in diameter by 3/4 inches thick.

Step 2: Fry patties in a generous amount of oil in a pan on medium heat. Brown one side completely (about five minutes) before turning over (excessive turning causes shami to fall apart).


NOTE—fresh vegetables should be washed and dried thoroughly! My mother (who is of Swiss-Swede stock) claims that torshee is appreciated only by Persians…

Mix the following ingredients and add to a quart jar:

Peeled shallots or baby onions

Peeled garlic cloves


Immature green peppers

Baby eggplants

Orange peelings (boiled and drained twice)

1/2 t. whole black peppercorns

1/2 t. whole cloves

1/2 t. golpar or oregano

1/2 t. ground cinnamon

1/2 t. salt

Pour white vinegar over the mixture in a jar, leaving an inch of top space. Put several layers of plastic wrap over the top before screwing on the cover, as the torshee will rust the metal lid if exposed to it. Age one year and store refrigerated after opening. One jar will last a very, very long time.

Recipe © Nura Amerson 1991

Cutlet and vegetables
Shami with garnish

Layli’s Reflections

It took several tries, and the assistance of my husband, to accomplish a patty that held its shape without disintegrating when I flipped it. (The disintegrated shami was still delicious, though unphotogenic!) I wasn’t following the measurements very closely, which must have led to an imbalanced ratio of ingredients. So, I ended up adding another egg to bind the mixture together.

And, as you can see from the photo, I did not make torshee. I’d like to venture into pickling territory at some point, though. I recall one Persian colleague serving dinner party guests some garlic torshee she had aged for decades. The cloves had turned black and soft, and my husband was skeptical of eating pickles that seemed to be in an advanced state of decay. But the flavor was rich and umami-full. Someday, perhaps I’ll also serve vintage garlic at a dinner party!

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