Shiraz is one of the most historic, storied, and down-right poetic cities of Iran. The birthplace of revered Persian poets Saadi and Hafiz, Shiraz is known for the splendor of its architecture, gardens, and majestically tall cypress “sarv-eh-naz” trees. The ruins of Persepolis lie in its environs, and the beauty of its women is fabled in the country.
Shiarz is, in sum, a city steeped in history, poetry and beauty.
It makes sense then that salad Shirazi – literally: “salad from Shiraz”- elevates the perfectly pedestrian affair of a cucumber, tomato, and onion salad into one that is still simple but also kind of wonderful.
You know how you can say the exact same thing but your tone and delivery make what you say distinctly different? With salad Shirazi, the alchemical “tone and delivery” steps of turning been-there-done-that ingredients into something singularly delightful are: dicing, proportion, and seasoning.
All revealed in the recipe!
- 3 small cucumbers (preferably firm and seedless)
- 1 big tomato
- 1 small onion (preferably red, but white works as well)
- 1-2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley (optional – we didn’t use it this time but it’s quite nice and recommend that you do!)
- 1/2 teaspoon grounded dried mint
- 4-6 tablespoons of fresh lemon (or lime) juice
- olive oil, salt and pepper to taste
- Dice tomato, cucumbers and onions. (Ideally, try to dice as fine as 1/4″ or 1/2″, but ultimately, the key thing is to dice ingredients the same size. As much as humanly possible that is! As for proportion, you want to end up with a 1, 1, 1/3 ratio of diced cucumber, tomato and onion. So for example: 1 cup each cucumber and tomato and 1/3 cup of onion.)
- In a serving bowl, toss diced ingredients with: chopped parsley (if you’re using it), dried ground mint, freshly squeezed lemon juice (err on overusing lemon juice than using too little), olive oil, salt, and pepper. Mix well.
- Chill for 30 minutes to an hour in the fridge (allowing all the flavors and juices to blend and soak in) and serve. Note that this salad is best made shortly before serving, as the mixture of lemon and other juices will turn sour if left for too long.
Salad Shirazi is a favorite summer-time side-dish, but also makes a year-round perfect accompaniment to any meat-centric menu like steak or kabob.
It is also quite delicious on its own, and with some bread and cheese and walnut makes a fantastic meal: light, crunchy, refreshing, and zestily flavorful.
Make it, and enjoy it, and nooshe jaan!
* Picture of Saadi’s tomb courtesy of Wikipedia.org