People have been serving cake on birthdays for centuries, but somewhere along the line my mum decided to additionally serve Salad Olvieh — a cold dish, featuring boiled eggs, BBQ chicken, potatoes and mayonnaise. You may be thinking, hey this sounds a lot like Russian salad, and you’re right. According to my good friend and renowned historian, Professor Wikipedia, the original version was invented by Russian chef, Lucien Olivier, in the 1860s. Since then, the dish has been modified in many countries, such as in Iran, where it is commonly eaten as a sandwich filler in the summer months.
This salad tastes pretty damn good, but I won’t lie — unless you’ve tried Salad Olvieh for yourself, it’s hard to believe this unusual salad can pass a taste test, especially at children’s birthday parties. Children are so often distracted by cake, sausage rolls, fairy bread (OH MY GOD FAIRY BREAD!) and lolly bags that they tend to overlook the nutritious stuff. But every year, without hesitation, my mum serves up this salad at birthday parties, for young and old, for locals and Persians, and it is gobbled up faster than you could say, Hip hip hooray.
So how does Mum do it? How does she get away with serving the equivalent of a smelly egg salad (sorry Mum!) at children’s birthday parties, year after year? Our family album holds some clues…
How to get away with serving egg salad at birthday parties
1. Location, location, location
Position the salad as close as possible to the birthday cake. At first, they don’t look alike, but your guests are too far away to tell the difference, and by now they’re hungry. Delusion sets in. The cake and salad have just been photographed together. Oh, and now they’ve been photographed with the birthday girl/guy. Suddenly, your salad seems attractive.
2. Double up
Holding a joint birthday party? Not a problem for the true salad-master. One cake, two olvieh salads. Your guests won’t know what hit them.
3. Blend in
It’s shaped, textured and decorated like a cake…so it must be…
4. Get the birthday girl/ boy on side
If all else fails, there’s nothing more scary than a one-year old who is closely guarding her cake and hasn’t blinked for two minutes. Screw it, give me the salad. Didn’t want cake anyway.
So there you go. Four easy steps for making your next salad more popular than the cake and guest of honour, combined! And now for the recipe…make this salad ahead of your next party, and let us know in the comments section below how it was received!
This dish is best served cold, often as a sandwich filler. Perfect for those times you have leftover BBQ / roast chicken.
1/4 BBQ chicken (skin removed)
5 medium potatoes (We used Golden Delight)
2 hard boiled eggs, finely diced
10 pickled baby cucumbers / small gherkins (unsweetened)
2 cups mayonnaise
1 cup frozen peas, cooked and drained
2tbs lemon juice
Salt and pepper
1. Boil potatoes until cooked. In the meantime, shred BBQ chicken with hands, making small pieces. Place chicken and diced eggs in large bowl.
2. Once potatoes are cooked, drain, peel skin and grate into bowl.
3. Add peas (save a handful for garnishing), lemon juice and mayonnaise to bowl.
4. Grab 8 of the pickled cucumbers and finely chop (you only need about 3-4 if you are using larger dill cucumbers instead). Mix into bowl.
5. Mix all ingredients well.
6. Spoon mixture onto a large platter or serving dish.
7. Garnish with the remaining pickled cucumbers (sliced), peas, and tomato or red capsicum (optional).