Persian culture, Recipes, Salads, Summer

A picnic in Iran + Salad Shirazi

Mum’s from Shiraz, a southern Iranian city known for its poets, its literature and among other things, its beautiful gardens.

Mum has fond memories of her city, especially in the summer. On the weekends, she’d help her mum and relatives pack up a picnic basket, filled with all the fresh ingredients needed for the day, and they would make their way to one of the many large parks in and around Shiraz.

The men in the family  take charge of the meat and the barbecue. There under the hot sun they set up a portable charcoal grill, hovering over it until the fire heats the metal, like the sun rays warming the layers of a Persian man’s luxuriant hair. They line the grill with kebab koobideh and joojeh, chicken skewers, and start chatting among themselves as the meat starts to cook.

Nearby, the women in the family settle themselves on a couple of large picnic blankets. They start to share stories, gossip from the week. They chop, peel and assemble the salads and sides as they await their barbecued lunch.

Across from them is another family, just as talkative, jovial and loud, and another family, and another.

The barbecued meat is ready and the men join their other halves on the picnic blanket. There’s a loud celebration of food and life as they start leaning over each other to grab a serving of kebab and a spoonful of Salad Shirazi. And then everyone is silent. The first mouthful has commenced.

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Salad Shirazi

This cool, refreshing salad recipe reminds Mum of a summer day in her hometown of Shiraz. It’s a staple in all Persian households, and is a favourite in our family. It smells great, and is a perfect accompaniment to any barbecue lunch or rice dish, especially Kalam polo.

Ingredients
4 medium size cucumbers
2 medium size tomatoes
1 red onion
2tsp dried mint flakes (sold in small jars or sachets at most supermarkets, or purchase in bulk from Persian stores)
2tbs apple cider vinegar
1tsp olive oil
Salt & pepper

Method
1. Dice the cucumbers, tomatoes and red onion into tiny pieces.
2. Combine cucumber, tomato, onion and mint in a salad bowl
3. Drizzle olive oil and vinegar (option to use lemon juice instead)
4. Add salt and pepper to taste
5. Mix well and serve.

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