Some recipes take you back – back to certain memories of yourself, thoughts you can’t otherwise access, and support from your ancestors.
I was reminded of this fact recently when I found myself sick as a dog. I could hardly sit up straight, much less eat anything. I’d think through the contents of the fridge and everything sounded downright awful.
Then it hit me: I could devour every bite of Salad Shirazi. Salad Shirazi is a tomato cucumber salad originating in Shiraz, a city in the southwest of Iran. Growing up half Iranian-American in California, I used to fill my plate with it at family gatherings. I hadn’t made or even really thought about Salad Shirazi in years, but it shot to mind as a way to rejuvenate and heal myself on some small level. Plus, spring had just blossomed and it sounded like a super refreshing complement to the heat.
So, during the prep process, I took a little greater care than normal to chop the ingredients, toss them thoroughly, and present the salad beautifully. I reflected on the ways this salad was more than just cucumber and tomato, calories and macronutrients – it was bringing up warm family memories, offering me comfort, and reminding me to slow down and savor the small moments.
Now that summer’s here, it’s a perfect time to make Salad Shirazi more often. It stands on its own or pairs perfectly with kebab or roasted protein.
Here’s the recipe if you want to try it for yourself!
Salad Shirazi Recipe (serves 4)
4 Persian cucumbers
2 ripe tomatoes
½ small red onion
½ lemon (or lemon juice in a pinch)
2 tsp dried mint (you can also use fresh mint)
Dash of salt
Dash of black pepper
Slice the cucumbers, tomatoes, and onion into very small, bite-sized pieces. This helps the vegetables better absorb all the different flavors of the salad. Then, combine the sliced vegetables in a bowl.
Squeeze the fresh lemon into a cup and remove any seeds that may have fallen in. Pour the lemon juice into the bowl according to your taste. (Hot tip: before pouring in all of the juice, check to see how much juice is sitting on the bottom so you’re not stuck with a pool of it half-way through eating.)
Add the dried mint. If you’re using fresh mint, chop it very finely first.
Add the salt and pepper to taste.Toss thoroughly.
Refrigerate the salad for at least 30 min before eating (if possible). The salad is best served chilled and it helps bring out the flavors of the lemon and the mint.