Shirazi salad is a staple Iranian side dish, and I can understand why. The simplicity and crunch of this chopped salad add all the freshness you need alongside elaborate rice dishes such as tah chin. I’ve adapted the concept into this equally refreshing cucumber salad.
4 as a starter
1 small red onion, peeled and thinly sliced
1¼ tsp sumac
1½ tbsp cider vinegar
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp dried mint
5 Lebanese cucumbers (or 2 regular cucumbers)
1 lemon, zest finely grated, to get 1 tsp, then juiced, to get 1½ tbsp
1 tbsp coriander seeds, toasted and lightly crushed in a pestle and mortar
1 garlic clove, peeled and crushed
100g red radishes, thinly shaved (use a mandoline, if you have one)
2 tbsp mint leaves
2 tbsp dill leaves
2 tbsp parsley leaves
100g thick yoghurt
Salt and black pepper
1. In a medium bowl, combine the onion, sumac, vinegar and an eighth of a teaspoon of salt. Leave to sit for at least 30 minutes, or overnight if you want to get ahead.
2. Place 1 tablespoon of oil in a small saucepan over a high heat until almost smoking. Place the dried mint in a heatproof ramekin and pour over the hot oil, it should sizzle immediately. Leave to cool completely.
3. Trim the ends off the cucumbers, then, using the flat of a large knife, bash the cucumbers repeatedly until they split and break. Scrape away and discard the seedy innards, then use your hands, or a knife, to break the cucumber into random, bite-sized chunks about 3cm in size.
4. Transfer to a bowl with half a teaspoon of salt and leave to sit for 20 minutes, to draw out the moisture. Pour away the liquid, then add the lemon zest and juice, half the coriander seeds, garlic, radishes, herbs, sumac onions, oil, a quarter-teaspoon of salt and a good grind of pepper. Spread a thin layer of yoghurt all over a serving platter. Place the salad on top, sprinkle with the remaining coriander seeds and drizzle over the mint oil.