Cucumber, tomato & onion salad
It may be very telling that we Iranians really only have one salad recipe and that it claims to be the national salad of Iran!
As the name gives away, the salad originates from Shiraz in Southern Iran. The core ingredients list is simple – cucumber, tomatoes, onion, dried mint, salt, pepper, oil and fresh lime juice. The resulting salad is juicy and citrusy and it complements the catalogue of Persian dishes. The core salad ingredients are finely diced into small chunks, however on occasion I deviate from tradition and make mine a little chunkier for aesthetic reasons!
If you can get your hands on them, I recommend using organic for the salad ingredients as it really does make a difference to the intensity of the flavour of the salad. As a further tip, after halving and before dicing the tomatoes, scrape or squeeze some of the the seeds out. There is a fine line between a juicy Salad Shirazi and a water-logged one, but don’t be too obsessive about seed removal. The salad is meant to be juicy and to have some delicious dressing to spoon over the other elements on your plate.
This dish features regularly at Persian BBQ’s as it has a summery feel to it and works well with the lamb and chicken kababs, but that’s not to say it isn’t greeted with joy and gusto when served during the winter, accompanying a stew and rice dish. This salad can be eaten with any cuisine so don’t feel you can only knock this up for Persian dishes.
- 1 medium cucumber
- 3 medium tomatoes
- 1 medium red onion
- 3 tbsp olive oil or toasted argan oil
- 2 limes (zest of one lime, juice squeezed from both for the dressing)
- 2 tsp dried mint (fresh mint can also be used as an alternative or in addition to the dried mint)
- Salt and pepper (to taste)
- Finely dice the onion, tomatoes and cucumber into small chunks. The idea is to have an even amount of each in the dish so revise amounts up or down, if necessary. One onion is the perfect amount for the 4-6 servings so start with the onion, then the tomatoes as it is easier to increase or decrease the amount of cucumber.
- Make a dressing out of the oil, lime juice and zest, salt, pepper and mint and drizzle over the salad.
- Toss the salad and taste - adjust the seasoning if required and then serve.