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Sālād-é-Shirāzi (Persian Cucumber and Tomato Salad) Recipe

Why It Works

  • Letting the diced salad substances sit with the salt attracts out their pure juices.
  • These extracted juices improve the flavour of the easy olive oil and verjuice dressing.
  • The important thing to this salad’s success is utilizing the freshest and highest high quality substances doable.

Though Persian delicacies is filled with starters, facet dishes, and accompaniments, there aren’t many that may be labeled as salad. The three hottest salads amongst Persians are sālād-é-shirāzi (tomato and cucumber salad), sālād-é-olevieh (which has Russian origins and is one thing between up to date hen, potato, and egg salads), and sālād-é-fassl (a seasonal recent inexperienced salad usually augmented with a little bit of cooked ingredient corresponding to pinto beans or beets). 

 Sālād-é-shirāzi is sometimes called the unofficial nationwide salad of Iran, primarily due to its reputation, but additionally as a result of its main colours of inexperienced (from cucumber), white (from onion), and crimson (from tomato) are the three main colours of the flag of Iran. Sālād-é-shirāzi takes its identify from the southern Iranian metropolis of Shirāz, which is called Iran’s metropolis of flowers, literature, and poets. This refreshing salad’s most important substances are cucumbers, tomatoes, and onions, that are tossed with a easy French dressing produced from olive oil, an acidic ingredient (most frequently verjuice, although vinegar, lime, or lemon juice can be utilized), plus salt and pepper. It has a pleasing salty-sour taste with a crisp chunk from the onion and cucumber and a welcome juicy end from the tomato.

Critical Eats / Nader Mehravari

 Whereas Persian cooking traditions date again 2,500 years, this salad is a comparatively trendy dish that got here collectively within the late nineteenth century, when tomatoes had been first launched to Iran. 

 Sālād-é-shirāzi is a very fashionable accompaniment at many Persian meals, notably when there’s some sort of rice or kabāb as the primary dish. Within the sizzling and dry days of summer time, when there are many cucumbers and tomatoes out there, this salad can be served as a light-weight and refreshing meal all its personal, accompanied with Persian flat breads corresponding to lavash, barbari, tāftoon, or sangak.

The Origins of Sālād-é-Shirāzi

Comparable salads are prevalent in different Center Jap and Central Asian meals cultures, such because the Afghani salad, Israeli salad, Indian kachumber salad, and the Palestinian falahiyeh salad. Whereas I’ve not seen any authoritative info that both proves or disproves whether or not these related salads from Center East and Central Asia are associated and/or are based mostly on one another, there’s at the very least likelihood Sālād-é-Shirāzi is a considerably associated to the these related diced tomato/cucumber/onion salads within the neighboring areas. 

Whereas related of their core substances, these salads all have their very own distinctive identification, attributes and background tales. The folks of Shirāz have a folkloric story (though more than likely not traditionally correct as this isn’t an historical salad) in regards to the origins of the sālād-é-shirāzi. It facilities round a regional monarch who wished to make sure the continued spiritedness of the folks of Shiraz.

Because the story goes, he devised a culinary competitors the place folks of Shirāz had been to organize a model of his personal complicated and time-consuming salad recipe. His recipe referred to as for the laborious duties of uniformly chopping the greens, urgent olives for making ready olive oil, and juicing inexperienced unripe grapes for making verjuice. On the ultimate day of the competitors, when everybody was presupposed to current their ready dishes for judgment, the monarch declared everybody a winner, as a result of everybody had achieved an impressive job of following his sophisticated recipe. From that day ahead, the recipe was generally generally known as sālād-é-shirāzi.

The Key Elements in Shirāzi Salad

Whereas trendy variations of this recipe not require you to extract your personal olive oil or make your personal verjuice, the important thing to success with this easy salad is selecting the highest quality substances doable.

Critical Eats / Nader Mehravari

Typically talking, in relation to the precise ratios of the substances, this salad is sort of forgiving. Extra vital is an evenness of minimize for every vegetable ,which is able to be certain that every spoonful has a balanced quantity of every ingredient and the correct texture. Attempt to purpose for roughly equal volumes of uniformly diced cucumbers and tomatoes and a barely lesser quantity of onion that’s diced a bit finer than the cucumbers and tomatoes.

  • Cucumber: The recipe requires Persian cucumbers, which have fewer and smaller seeds than different varieties corresponding to English cucumber or American backyard cucumbers. Persian cucumbers are skinny skinned, crisp, and fragrant. If unavailable at your native grocery store, English cucumbers are a superb substitute with an equal quantity by weight. Whereas I favor peeling the cucumbers in my salad for a much less bitter taste and extra refined texture, they are often left unpeeled for much more crunch.
  • Tomatoes: Virtually talking, any number of tomato will do. What’s vital is utilizing tomatoes which are as ripe as doable, as this salad is not going to be distinctive if the tomatoes should not good. 
  • Onions: Crimson onions are the popular onion type on this recipe. They’re pleasantly pungent and convey assertive taste and crunchiness that balances out the delicate taste of the cucumber and the juicy texture of the tomatoes.The intense purple hue of crimson onions provides visible enchantment as properly. Yellow onion will work on this recipe too, however I might not use white or Vidalia onions as they’re a bit too candy for this salad.
  • Crushed Dried Mint Leaves: The salads I loved rising up in Iran all the time had mint in them. The mint provides a fragile aroma with out masking the flavors of the accompanying freshly chopped substances. For Persians who nonetheless subscribe to historical culinary humoral rules and practices (the place heat, chilly, dry, and moist temperaments had been assigned to substances and dishes), mint will not be non-obligatory as a result of mint has a heat temperament that balances the chilly temperaments of the cucumber and tomato.
  • Acid: Persians love their souring brokers. Essentially the most conventional acid used on this salad is verjuice. Actually, in Iran’s Fars Province—of which Shiraz is the capital—this salad is also called the sālād-é-abghooreh (that means “verjuice salad”). Crimson-wine, apple-cider vinegar, lime juice, or lemon juice are all acceptable substitutions for the verjuice, and in style amongst many Persians. Seville Oranges (Bitter Oranges) are a prized souring agent in Persian cooking. If in season and out there, attempt changing half of the acidic ingredient on this recipe with Seville orange juice.

A Dressing That Virtually Makes Itself

Some raw-tomato recipes on Critical Eats reward the advantages of salting and then draining the tomatoes prematurely to attract out water and focus the tomato’s taste. Whereas sure, that is useful if you wish to keep away from a puddle of tomato juices amassing on the underside of the bowl, within the case of this salad, I really need the pool of flavorful liquid on the backside—it provides recent vegetal taste to the salad. 

Critical Eats / Nader Mehravari

The naturally launched liquids from the tomato and cucumber are vital parts of this recipe, combining with the added acid, oil, salt, and pepper to kind an much more flavorful dressing. To this finish, it’s a necessity to let the salad sit for at the very least quarter-hour earlier than serving so there’s time for the dressing to “make itself.” Persians by no means let this rising pool of dressing go to waste. It’s best to spoon it over rice or throw a couple of small chunks of bread or crackers in to soak the dressing up and revel in.

Serving Ideas

Typically talking, this dish is taken into account a facet dish that may accompany virtually any most important dish, besides possibly soup-like mains. If the primary dish includes some form of rice dish, many Persians serve a number of spoonfuls of this salad on their main plate so {that a} little bit of the naturally fashioned salad dressing is absorbed by a number of the rice. For a salad with a little bit of a fiery kick, think about including two cloves of minced garlic or one finely chopped small recent Thai inexperienced chile.

Sālād-é-Shirāzi (Persian Cucumber and Tomato Salad)

This in style Iranian salad that encompasses a mixture of cucumbers, tomatoes, and onions is refreshing, easy, and fast to make.

  • 1/4 cup (60ml) verjuice, or crimson wine vinegar, apple cider vinegar, lemon juice, or lime juice

  • 1/4 cup (60ml) extra-virgin olive oil

  • 1 teaspoon crushed dried mint (see notes)

  • 2 teaspoons Diamond Crystal Kosher salt; for desk salt, use half as a lot by quantity 

  • 1 teaspoon freshly floor black pepper

  • 14 ounces (400g) ripe tomatoes (about 3 medium backyard tomatoes), minimize into 1/4-inch cube (see notes)

  • 3 Persian cucumbers (about 12 ounces; 340g), peeled and minimize into 1/4-inch cube (see notes)

  • 1 medium crimson onion (about 8 ounces; 225g), minimize into 1/8-inch cube

  • 1/4 teaspoon floor sumac, plus additional to style

  1. In a big bowl, whisk verjuice (or vinegar or citrus juice), oil, dried mint, salt, and pepper till mixed. Stir in tomato, cucumber, and onion and toss till properly coated. 

    Critical Eats / Nader Mehravari

  2. Let salad sit for quarter-hour till flavors mix and tomatoes and cucumbers start to launch their juices. Sprinkle with sumac. Serve. 

    Critical Eats / Nader Mehravari


Make Certain to buy dried spearmint, and never dried peppermint for this recipe.

Any tomato selection will work on this recipe, so long as it’s recent and ripe. Data on cube tomatoes may be discovered here.

English cucumber could also be substituted for Persian cucumber with an equal quantity by weight. Data on cube cucumbers may be discovered here.

Seville Oranges (Bitter Oranges) are a prized souring agent in Persian cooking. If in season and out there, attempt changing half of the acidic ingredient on this recipe with Seville orange juice.

For a salad with a little bit of a fiery kick, think about including two cloves of minced garlic or one finely chopped small recent Thai inexperienced chile.

This salad is most frequently served as a facet dish, however can also be nice served as a light-weight most important dish together with some bread.

Make-Forward and Storage

The dressed salad may be refrigerated in an hermetic container for as much as 2 days earlier than serving. The tomatoes will soften in texture, however the onion and cucumbers will retain most of their crunch.

Alternatively, the greens may be minimize and refrigerated in separate hermetic containers for as much as 3 days then tossed with the ready dressing proper earlier than serving.

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