Iranian Shirazi Salad
Bearing strong contrast to many countries within the Arabian Peninsula which are characterised by inhabitable desserts, Iran is surprisingly quite well known for their vegetable and fruit produce. The first impressions of Iranian produce for me has to be their emerald green pistachios and saffron but more recently we saw other fruits like oranges imported from there as well. The local climate is particularly conducive for fruit and vegetable cultivation it seems. As such, fruits and greens form a large part of an Iranian diet and this can be seen through the variety of salads enjoyed by them. Amongst what I’d read on Persian cuisine, Salad-e Shirazi must surely be the easiest to prepare.
Salad-e Shirazi is named after the Iranian city where it had purportedly originated from. But this simple salad which requires few ingredients to prepare is widely enjoyed throughout Iran and similar versions can be found throughout the Middle East. The main ingredients are cucumber, tomatoes and onion, which forms basically the standard “package” of what one would find in many salads in various cuisines from India all the way to the Mediterranean coast. It is a lettuce-free salad which uses lime juice for its astringent flavours in place of the standard vinegar.
The main ingredients have had their seeds removed before being cut into small morsels. Into a mixing bowl they go, after which they are tossed with olive oil, lime juice and a quick seasoning of salt, pepper and sugar. It is good to leave the mixture to sit for 10-15 min in the fridge for the excess liquids to leach so that the salad would not turn soggy on the serving plate instead.
Iranian Shirazi Salad (serves 4)
2 medium cucumbers (I’d used Japanese cucumbers
2 large tomatoes
1 large red onion
1 handful of fresh french flat-leaf parsley and/or mint leaves, chopped coarsely
Juice from 2 medium limes
1/2 tbsp fine-grained sugar
salt and pepper to taste
2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
Rinse cucumber and tomatoes thoroughly. Cut into halves, remove seeds and chunk the cucumber and tomatoes into small morsels.
Peel the papery membrane from onion, dice into small pieces.
In a mixing bowl, add bits of cucumber, tomatoes and onion. Add all the seasoning ingredients and give everything a good toss. Adjust the amount of salt and pepper to personal preference. Cover with cling film and rest the salad in the fridge for 15-20 min.
Add chopped mint or parsley and toss quickly one more time.
Plate the salad and enjoy with other Middle Eastern dishes and rice.