It’s good to know that the humble turnip has a life beyond Baldrick and Blackadder… Indeed, in Turkey this vegetable has a much higher status, it’s given its name to a rather special drink.

But the story doesn’t end there…

If you’re in a bakkal (corner shop), market, or supermarket anywhere in Turkey and have mooched around in the soft drinks department, you will probably have spotted a purply-red drink in row after row of functional looking bottles (usually plastic) called Şalgam (shalgam). It most likely has a picture on the front of something that looks a bit like a radish.

Maybe, if you were feeling adventurous, you bought a bottle to try out but if you’re more cautious when it comes to new tastes, let us explain what this drink is… Then you can decide for yourself.

By Anatolianpride (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Not a turnip after all?

Şalgam Suyu literally means turnip water but in fact the main ingredient is purple carrots (that was their original colour by the way, before someone decide they looked better orange).

şalgam sebzeleri

A popular drink in Turkey’s south

The world şalgam in persian in origin but it is a very popular beverage in southern Turkey’s cities of Adana and Mersin.

In a pickle


Şalgam is made with the juice of pickled red carrots and flavoured with aromatic turnip (çelem) and has ground bulgur, salt and spices added.

The mixture is then fermented in barrels.

It is salty and more than a little spicy; so, when hot pepper is added just before drinking, it has a very unique flavour that packs a lot of punch.

Turnip chaser anyone?

Turnips 2

Some say that şalgam is best served as an accompaniment to rakı (in a separate glass).

Or the ultimate hangover cure?


While others say that şalgam suyu is a great cure for hangovers

Enjoy – with caution

We think the flavour can be described as interesting; so, if you are looking for a very Turkish drink why not buy a bottle?

But beware… being salty it probably should be avoid by people with high blood pressure.

Finally, we are reliably informed that drinking too much can cause bloating, with the inevitable consequences…

Copy of kohlrabi in garden