Shirazi salad

Serves: 6
Course: Salads
Cooking Time: 0 hr 30 mins


  • <ul> <li>1 cucumber</li> <li>6 ripe vine tomatoes, halved and cored</li> <li>1 red onion</li> <li>olive oil</li> <li>3 good pinches of sea salt</li> <li>freshly ground black pepper</li> <li>juice of 1 lemon</li> <li>2 heaped tsp sumac</li> <li>200g (7oz) pomegranate seeds</li> </ul>

Taking its name from the city of Shiraz in Iran (which is also the place from which the Shiraz grape gets its name), this dish is pretty much the national salad of Iran, if we actually had a national salad, of course. Shirazi is the most common accompaniment to most meals. Other versions include the Indian kachumber salad, Afghani salad and Israeli salad - all of which are almost identical. I like to add pomegranate seeds and a little sumac to give the salad a new dimension, but even without, it is incredibly refreshing and a firm favourite of mine.

Wash the cucumber and tomatoes. Finely dice the cucumber: the best way to do this is to halve your cucumber lengthways and cut each half into 1cm thick lengths. Slice each of these pieces lengthways into long thin strips about 5mm. Chop each of these strips widthways into small dice, then put into a salad bowl.

Finely dice the tomatoes, by slicing each tomato half into three, then cut each piece into 5mm strips. Chop these into small dice, as with the cucumber, and add to the bowl.

Peel the red onion, removing any tough outer skins and cut in half from the top down. Finely chop each half: slice off the bottom cores, then finely slice each half into thin 3mm thick half moons, then turn the onion around and cut 3mm ‘slices’ at 90 degrees to your existing slices to produce perfect, finely diced pieces of red onion. Add these to the bowl.

Add a generous drizzle of olive oil to the mixture, just enough to lubricate it. Season with the sea salt and some black pepper, pour over the lemon juice and give the ingredients a good mix to distribute the dressing evenly. At this point, you can sprinkle over the sumac and pomegranate seeds. Pop the salad into the refrigerator for 20 minutes, as it is best served chilled.