Mzhave Georgian cabbage pickled with beets
Mzhave Georgian cabbage pickled with beets

Georgian Mzhave, Ukrainian Pelyustka

Mzhave Combosto is widely popular in former Soviet countries appetizer made with cabbage and beetroot. Since it belongs to the Georgian cuisine, it is also known as Georgian or Guria-style cabbage. Word MZHAVE literally means salted, fermented, or pickled. There are variations in different regions of Georgia (e.g., in Guria, Imereti, and Kakheti). Some cooks prefer natural fermentation when other add vinegar to pickle vegetables. Some recipes make the cabbage more hot and pungent, while other are not heavy with spices and herbs. Every household adjusts the recipe to the taste. The common ingredients are juicy white cabbage, beetroot, garlic, and chile pepper. Celery is also often in the list.
In Ukraine, we have a similar recipe — Pelyustka. The name comes from the word “petal” probably because pickled with beets cabbage leaves look like pink flower petals.

Капуста цвета “вырви глаз”

The beautiful magenta color is one of the critical characteristics of the dish. While the traditional recipes call for raw cabbage and beetroot, I could never achieve that bright color with raw beets. I suppose it has something to do with the variety of local beets. Using them cooked solved the problem. I boiled them, but it the cooking method doesn’t matter. Steamed or roasted beets will work just fine. This recipe belongs to Andrew Bugayski and the only adjustment I made was cooking beets.

Mzhave Georgian cabbage pickled with beets

Mzhave | Georgian Cabbage Pickled with Beets

Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time5 mins
Total Time25 mins
Course: Appetizer, Condiment, Salad
Cuisine: Georgian
Keyword: beet, cabbage, garlic, lycooking, lyukum cooking lab, spiced, vegetables
Servings: 1 cabbage head


  • 1 head cabbage winter white variety, juicy and compact
  • 1 each beetroot large, cooked
  • 7 cloves garlic
  • 1 each jalapeno fresh or dry, optional, adjust to taste
  • 85 g salt
  • 120 ml red wine vinegar
  • 40 g celery leaves fresh, optional, adjust to taste
  • 1 tbsp dill seeds
  • 1 tbsp coriander seeds
  • 2 each bay leaf


  • Prepare vegetables. Slice cabbage to vedges. Peel and thinly slice beets. Fresh or dry, remove veins and seeds than slice the chili pepper of your choice. Peel and thinly slice garlic. Prepare spices, herbs, and seasonings.
  • Clean pickling container(s). You need one 4-quart or two 2-quart nonreactive containers and weights (I use saucer plates). Fill the container with alternating layers of cabbage, beets, chili pepper, and garlic. If using the celery, place it on the top. Add enough drinking water to cover the vegetables. Strain the liquid into a saute pan.
  • Bring the water to boiling over the high heat. Add salt, bay leaves, dill and coriander seeds, and let simmer for 2-3 minutes. Turn off the heat.
  • Add vinegar to the pickling container with the cabbage and beets and then pour the hot brine to cover the vegetables. Place a weight to keep them submerged. Let stay at room temperature for 3-5 days until cabbage is bright red. Keep mzhave refrigerated in the same container with brine for up to 5 weeks. My favorite way of serving it is drizzled with good tasting vegetable oil and piping hot boiled potatoes. Enjoy!


слова Андрея Бугайского, музыка вечная:
"На трехлитровую банку (но это не принципиально, можно и галлон)
Кочан капусты белой крепкой.
Стручок чили - халапеньо, анахайм.
Чеснок - 7-8 зубков.
Свёкла - одна
Семя укропа - 1 ст.л.
Кориандр - 1 ст.л.
Уксус винный красный - 100-150 мл
Соль - 60-90 г
Капусту нарезать шашками. Свеклу очистить, пополам и тонко пластинками. Перец пополам и зерна вытряхнуть. Чеснок очистить. Всё набить в банку плотно.
Залить водой хорошей доверху. Воду слить в ковшик. В банку налить уксус. Воду вскипятить, растворить соль, положить укроп и кориандр, поварить две-три минуты. Дать немного остыть, вылить сверху в банку. Пусть стоит, пока капуста не станет красной. Это дней пять примерно."
Mzhave Georgian cabbage pickled with beets