Thursday, 4 September 2014

Salad Shirazi with Pomegranate Seeds

This is one of those dishes whose simplicity belies how utterly amazing the combination of ingredients tastes...

Which is perhaps why it is pretty much the national salad dish of Iran. Hailing from the city of Shiraz, this Persian salad is to Iran, what Kachumber is to India.

Shirazi Salad

With the same base of cucumber, tomato and onion, salad Shirazi is flavoured with citrus and mint. I've added fresh pomegranate seeds to my version, for delicious little pops of sweetness with a crunch, and the fresh mint brings it all together beautifully.

It's good to make this a little in advance and leave it to chill for an hour or so, to allow the flavours to mingle. It's great as a side dish to pretty much any Persian meal - we had it on the side of some delicious Joojeh kababs (Persian chicken kebabs with saffron and lemon - recipe here) along with my Persian-inspired quinoa and lentil salad with roasted vegetables, sumac and fresh herbs.

This serves four people as a side dish, at 38 calories per serving. [Calories in square brackets]
  • 1/2 an English cucumber (or use Persian cucumbers, if you're lucky enough to be able to get hold of some! 180g) [20 calories]
  • 2 large vine tomatoes (220g) [4]
  • 1/2 a red onion (45g) [18]
  • 1.5 x 15ml tbsp lime juice (22.5ml, the juice of approximately one small lime) [5]
  • 100g pomegranate seeds [100]
  • Small handful fresh mint leaves [4]
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper [1]

Cut the cucumber and tomatoes in half lengthways (from root to tip), core the tomatoes, and scoop the seeds out of both with a teaspoon (if you happen to have Persian cucumbers, you won't need to do this). Peel the onion, and trim the top off - leave the root on as something to hold onto while you're cutting it.

Essentially, everything now needs to be cut into approximately 1/2cm dice, so you'll need a very sharp knife for the tomatoes. Slice everything lengthways, then cut across into dice.

Chop the mint leaves up, and add to the chopped vegetables together with the lime juice, pomegranate seeds and season with a light sprinkle of salt, and some freshly ground black pepper. Taste for seasoning, then preferably chill for 1/2 an hour or more to allow the flavours to combine.

Enjoy as a delicious and refreshing side to Middle Eastern dishes.


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