Not pictured: vinegar-spiked water dripping down my forearm as I munch on these and type.

Hamutzim (pronounced: khawm-ooo-tzeem) are the Israeli version of the plate of bread that comes before your meal at a restaurant. And they are insanely addictive. Once I have one I have to eat the entire bowl and then I can’t stop thinking about them till the next time I eat them. They usually accompany hummus or go inside a falafel, though sometimes hamutzim merely refers to the bowl of cut up pickles and onion that can also accompany a bowl of hummus, instead of this version, which is cauliflower, cabbage, carrot and red bell pepper.

This recipe comes from Roni, a very nice man in the Iraqi shuk at Mahaneh Yehuda market, who sells large to-go containers but was generous enough to share his recipe with me, as well as his phone number in case I ran into any problems. Roni also sells olives and amba (pickled mango), and I met him a few weeks back when I asked him for a recipe for amba and he laughed in my face. I guess it’s really hard to make? Thanks to my friend Amira’s Iraqi grandmother, as soon as mangoes are in season here, I’m going to take a stab at it. And then I’ll go laugh in Roni’s face.

Nevertheless, I was shocked at the likeness of these. They are exactly what I eat in the restaurant. Add them to your salad, eat them with meat, munch on them, stick them in a sandwich or falafel, or enjoy them with some hummus. I’m salivating and going back for more right now.

Makes about 6 cups

What you need:

One head of cauliflower; leaves removed and florets separated and cut small

5 leaves of cabbage; coarsely chopped into 1″ x 1″ squares or 2″ x 2″

2 small red bell peppers or 1 large red bell pepper; cut into 1″ squares and small strips for variety

1 carrot; cut on a bias

10-12 bay leaves

3 tsp amba spice mix – At an Indian or Middle Eastern spice store, it may be called “Amchur/Amchoor.” Alternately, pull together some ground mustard seeds, chili powder, hot paprika, and a little cumin. But FYI, I’ve made this without the spice mix and it’s still good.

1 tsp turmeric

a pinch of ground pepper

1 tsp peppercorns–the big ones (about 25-30)

3 tblsp salt

8 c water

2 c white vinegar

How to do it:

Cut the vegetables into slices and disassemble the cauliflower into little florets. Wash the vegetables and transfer them to a large pot. Add the water and vinegar and cook until water boils. Once it boils, turn off the heat, move the pot to another burner, add the spices and cover. Allow to sit for at least two hours on the counter. Transfer to a jar and secure tightly. Enjoy!

22 thoughts on “Roni’s Israeli-style Hamutzim (Pickled Vegetables)—חֲמוּצִים

  1. Abby says:

    Hi! I’m dana’s friend Abby. Love your blog. This recipe made my mouth water. The shuk is one of my favorite places in the world! Can I request a recipe for those amazing fermented/pickled/delicious lemons they sell? I totally forget the name.
    Keep up the great work!

    1. Thank you, Abby! They’re actually my next post!! But keep the requests coming!

  2. jonquilla says:

    Hello! I found this post when I was googling pickled veggie recipes, and it looks fabulous. I hunted through my local Indian and international markets yesterday, though, and couldn’t find an amba spice mix, and haven’t found anything about it online. What kind of flavors does it add to the pickles? Just wondering if I can cobble together something of a substitute…

    I love your blog now that I’ve explored it! Keep the fabulous recipes coming!

    1. Shoot! Apparently it’s called “Amchur/Amchoor,” if you do find your way back to an Indian store. I’m updating this recipe, so thank you. Alternately, it’s called “mango powder.”

      I would pull together some hot paprika, chili powder, cumin (careful though!), and ground mustard seed. I think the mustard seed is probably key. Just bear in mind that the recipe calls for 3 teaspoons of this mix. Have no fear, however, without this spice mix. I’ve made it myself without and it turned out fine. It might be interesting to squeeze in a tablespoon or two of lemon juice if you’re feeling courageous. And then let me know how it turns out. Really, this is a killer pickled vegies recipe. Enjoy and thanks for commenting!

      1. jonquilla says:

        Awesome! I was wondering if that might be an okay equivalent since amba is mango. I have amchoor on hand for Indian dishes, so these are marinating in their brine on the counter as I type. The brine is tasty and interesting, so I can’t wait until the veggies are pickled! Yum!

      2. Fantastic! Let me know how they turn out! They are reaaaally good if you munch on them with some pita and hummus.

      3. Renee says:

        Amchur is a dried green mango only….so it doesn’t contain the other spices which would make up the Amba…here is Wikipedia’s description of Amba: It is typically made of mangoes, vinegar, salt, mustard, turmeric, chili and fenugreek, similarly to savoury mango chutneys. I’ve also read that many substitute Chaat Masala for Amba.

    2. Jennifer Ben Yeshaia says:

      Amba isa pickled mango spred. You can find it at any middle eastern store. Good luck!

  3. pepperbidder says:

    The larger type of peppercorns are called Pilpel Angli (allspice berries) they are much nicer than black pepper and perfect for making chamutzim

  4. Laura Drahan says:

    This is great for femrenting! Hope you give it a try as opposed to pickling. 🙂

  5. While peppercorns and allspice look similar, they are not the same and will give a different taste. They are both used in making dill type pickles. I wonder if Roni at the shuk said pilpel angli (not pilpel) since the recipe already calls for a pinch of ground pepper. r

  6. While they look very similar, allspice is nothing like black pepper so it’s not a substitute. The allspice berries are larger than the peppercorns. Allspice is a primary ingredient in pickling spice so perhaps adding some as well as the black pepper may give it a nice flavor.

  7. whoops! I see I made a similar comment a month ago. Sorry! I’m making these pickles today for the first time and will throw in a few allspice berries. I only have the amba in liquid form so I’m considering putting some in or preparing my own dried mix with the above mentioned spices. I’m also using cucumbers and celery in place of the cauliflower as we like them better and its much cheaper than the frozen bug free cauliflower we’d use. I’m also using kolrabi in place of cabbage because our store ran out of whole bug free cabbages by the time I got there. In any case, most restaurants and caterers I’ve seen use cucumbers and kolrabi and not cauliflower. I may also add an onion I’ve had these pickled vegies at falafel/shwarma places in Israel and in Florida and it’s occasionally served as one of the salads/condiments at weddings in Israel and I love it!

  8. Jessica says:

    Hello! I’m making your hummus recipe for the second time today. I’ve been experimenting with other recipes, including the revered ottolenghi one, but I find myself comming back to yours as the best recipe yet. I’m gunna try these pickles with it this time! Did you ever find a successful recipe for amba? Living in Canada I’ve never tasted it, but I’ve read about it being a common condiment for falafel in isreal. I would like to find something authentic but thats difficult when you don’t know the flavors you’re after 😛

  9. Dina says:

    Hi I want to make your chamutzim recipe. I dont have the amchoor spice but I was wondering if I could use instead some amba sauce in a jar?? thanks, Dina

    1. Hi Dina, I don’t think so. Instead of the amba/amchoor spice, you can use ground mustard seeds, chili powder, hot paprika, a little cumin and some turmeric for color. Of course, if you do your own thing and the amba sauce works, let me know!

  10. Richard Smith says:

    This is one of my favorite beer sides.

  11. Ron says:

    cucumber, onion, celery and kohlrabi are also common vegies to use in this recipe.

    Yes, allspice (pilpel Angli, meaning English pepper) is an important ingredient, not to be confused with the smaller black peppercorns.

    I’ve not tried with with amba powder. I use various pickling spices including those in the recipe. I like to also add garlic and coriander seeds. (You can even add some dill seed and fennel seed.

  12. Melissa says:

    Would love to know what Roni’s store/stall is called and where it can be found in the shuk. I’ve never tried amba and would like to.

  13. Sandra Wohlgemuth says:

    I made these yesterday, thank you for sharing your recipe!! I have a full jar of super yummy chamutzim!!! THANK YOU!!!

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