I’m so excited to share another Persian recipe with you guys because whenever there’s food involved, it’s always a good idea to go back to your heritage, am I right?
With that said, I love trying new things and tasting food from different cuisines. What is your favorite dish from your culture or heritage? Let me know by commenting on this blog post – I’d love to know!
Shirazi salad or Salad-e Shirazi is a vibrant, colorful salad that is commonly served in any Iranian household, including my own. It is known for this really uniform look since everything is cut to about the same size. It makes a seriously good companion and balances out the richness of meaty dishes like lamb or chicken kabobs.
During our weekend family barbecues, my Dad would grill his signature saffron joojeh kabobs (learn how he makes it here) while this tomato cucumber salad was always the side dish. I guess you could say I’ve been eating this salad recipe since I was a kid.
You’re going to love how nutritious yet flavorful this Shirazi salad is. It’s made with fresh, crunchy vegetables like cucumbers, onions, and tomatoes. The addition of mint and fresh herbs makes the salad super fragrant and refreshing. Finally, the dressing of lime and olive oil gives it that zing and that oomph!
Shirazi salad dates far, far earlier than my family’s barbecue dinners. The recipe has been around since the end of the 19th century. It originates from Iran and its name is derived from a southern city in Iran called Shiraz. Yes, that’s where Shiraz wine comes from, too.
At first glance, this tomato cucumber salad may look a lot like Greek salad, and you’re absolutely right to think they are similar. The ingredients, the dressing, and the simplicity of it all do ring true to the flavors of Middle Eastern cuisine.
So, what’s the difference between Greek salad and Salad-e Shirazi? Well, we can think of them as cousins. Shirazi salad is more acidic and more aromatic than Greek salad. Greek salad has strong, briny flavors coming from the olives and feta cheese, which are absent from Shirazi. Regardless of their differences, though, they’re both yummy in their own ways.
Here are the ingredients for this Persian salad, just like Dad would make it:
For the salad, you will need:
- Persian cucumbers – I’ve used 6 small Persian cucumbers for this recipe. They give a nice crunch, and you do not need to peel them (to preserve the natural sweetness).
- Pro Tip: If you are looking for an alternative, 2 English cucumbers will yield about the same amount as 6 small Persian cucumbers.
- Roma tomatoes – I’ve used 6 ripe and firm roma tomatoes because they have the least seeds.
- Pro Tip: There’s a lot of water content in the roma tomatoes, so de-seed the tomatoes for the best results. If your tomatoes are too juicy or ripe, throw them in a colander to get rid of the excess liquid after they have been diced.
- Red onions – Onions have a very pungent smell, but if chopped finely, they will be more subtle.
- Fresh cilantro – I know some people say cilantro tastes like soap, but I happen to disagree… Chop finely and maybe, it’ll be less soapy 🙂
- Fresh parsley – Finely chopped parsley gives this salad a herby touch.
- Dried mint – 1 teaspoon of dried mint is what makes this salad aromatic. This is the key ingredient that sets Shirazi salad apart from the other salads. If you do not have dried mint, you can finely chop ½ cup of fresh mint leaves.
To make the best Shirazi salad dressing:
- Kosher salt – I use ⅔ teaspoons of kosher salt in this recipe. It is less salty and simply enhances flavor, so if you are using regular table salt, I’d recommend using about ½ teaspoon only.
- Black pepper – Freshly cracked black peppercorn is the best for this recipe. Their coarseness provides a burst of pepper flavor in each bite.
- Lime – For a great punch of citrus, we want to get about 6 tablespoons of lime juice from about 3 limes and ½ teaspoon of fine lime zest. Mom likes to use ab ghooreh (Persian sour grape juice) but since it’s quite rare here, we’ve subbed it with lime juice.
- Olive oil – Measure 4 tablespoons of olive oil. There is no specific type of olive oil here, so use what you have in your pantry.
Assembling the Salad
Step One: Remove the seeds from the roma tomatoes. Dice the tomatoes, cucumbers, and red onions into small cubes of the same size (See photos for size estimation).
- Chop everything evenly. The most important thing for this salad is to dice the tomatoes, cucumbers, and onions really small. Chop the herbs finely. It helps to give the salad the uniform look it’s known for and makes every bite more enjoyable with all the different flavors and textures.
Step Two: Combine the above ingredients with parsley and cilantro in a medium bowl.
Step Three: In a small bowl, whisk together the lime juice, lime zest, salt, pepper, and olive oil. Drizzle the salad with the dressing and toss gently to coat. Serve immediately.
- Pro Tip: The salad should be crunchy and fresh, so tossing it with the dressing just before serving gives you the best results.
- Pro Tip: Want a bolder flavor? Dress the Shirazi salad, then cover and chill in the fridge for 30 minutes or so to allow the flavors to meld.
Shirazi Salad Recipe
- 6 small Persian cucumbers or 2 English cucumber unpeeled, diced small
- 6 ripe firm Roma tomatoes diced small
- 1 red onion finely chopped
- 3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh cilantro
- 3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley
- 1 teaspoon dried mint
- ⅔ teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly-cracked black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon fine lime zest
- 6 tablespoons fresh squeezed lime juice about 3 medium limes
- 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- Remove the seeds from the Roma tomatoes prior to chopping then dice the cucumbers, tomatoes and red onion into small cubes all the same size (please see inspo photos). Add to a bowl.
- Add the finely chopped parsley and cilantro.
- In a small bowl use a whisk to combine the lime juice, lime zest, salt, pepper and olive oil.
- Add dressing to the salad ingredients. Toss gently to coat. Serve immediately.