Delicious, quick to make, and fresh Salad Shirazi that you absolutely want to try! This simple Persian recipe uses just a few ingredients and is the perfect appetizer or side dish!
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what is Salad Shirazi?
Salad Shirazi is a simple Persian salad recipe comprising tomatoes, onion, and cucumbers dressed in lime juice and olive oil dressing. It is so popular in Iran that it is considered the national salad of the country. It has its origin in Shiraz, in the South of Iran (hence the name).
It is also very similar to the Israeli salad (also known as salat yerakot yisra'eli). This also comprises finely chopped tomatoes, onion, and cucumber and was adopted by Jewish immigrants to the Levant in the 19th century. Most versions of the Israeli salad include chili and bell peppers. It is normally dressed with lemon juice, yogurt, or Za'atar. The Israeli and Shirazi salads are basically a variation of each other and only differ with the addition of a few extra vegetables such as bell and chili peppers.
This salad, which is also known as salat e shiraz or simply Shirazi salad, uses just a few healthy ingredients and is absolutely easy to prepare. It is exactly for this reason, that I love making it for busy weeknight dinners or serving it as a refreshing side dish, during summer. I also love how tasty the dressing is, you just can't beat this!
Here are the ingredients you will need:
- Tomatoes - choose firm and fleshy Roma tomatoes.
- Onion - a small red onion, finely chopped.
- Cucumber - Shirazi salad is traditionally made using Persian cucumbers, which you can find in Middle-Eastern shops. But don't worry if you cannot get your hands on some, as you can simply substitute these for one unpeeled English cucumber.
- Chopped fresh mint leaves and parsley - you can also use dried mint leaves. In this case, rub the dried leaves between the palms of your hands to release the flavors. Also, there are many versions of the salad Shirazi recipe that do not use parsley so feel free to omit this.
Additionally, you will need the following ingredients to make the salad dressing:
- Extra virgin olive oil - acts as a great base for the dressing and helps with the absorption of nutrients from the vegetables.
- Lime juice - Normally, unripe grape juice (also known as verjuice or ab-ghooreh) is used for acidity but seeing that this may not always be readily available in stores, feel free to use lime or even lemon juice.
- Salt and ground black pepper to taste.
how to make Shirazi salad
This is a summary of how how to make salad Shirazi, see the recipe card below for detailed instructions.
- Wash the vegetables, mint, and parsley leaves then finely slice them or dice them into small cubes. When slicing the tomatoes, remove the seeds if too seedy, to prevent the salad from going watery.
- Combine the chopped fresh vegetables, parsley, and mint in a medium-sized bowl.
- To make the salad dressing, cut the lime and squeeze the juice into a small bowl. Add olive oil, lime juice,
- Stir in the salad dressing into the chopped vegetables then combine. Check for salt at this point and add more if you need to. Allow your salad Shirazi to chill in the fridge for at least 30 minutes before serving.
Shirazi salad vs Tabbouleh
Shirazi and Tabbouleh, while similar in some ways, have a few differences as follows:-
- ingredients - typically include cucumbers, tomatoes, onions, and sometimes peppers as key ingredients, and is seasoned with lemon juice, olive oil, and herbs like mint and parsley. Tabbouleh is predominantly a parsley salad made from finely chopped parsley, along with tomatoes, mint, onion, and soaked bulgur wheat. It's also dressed with lemon juice and olive oil.
- origins - named after Shiraz, a city in Iran, this salad Shirazi is a staple in Persian cuisine. Tabbouleh on the other hand, originates from the Levantine region, primarily Lebanon and Syria.
- texture and flavor: salad Shirazi has a more crisp flavor due to the predominant use of chopped vegetables. Tabbouleh, on the other hand has a more herbaceous flavor due to the abundance of parsley. It also has a slightly chewy texture, because of the presence of bulgur wheat.
what to eat with Shirazi salad
Salad Shirazi is so versatile and can be paired up with so many dishes! I cannot even count the number of dishes I like to enjoy my salad with! Some common pairings for you to try include:-
- Kebabs: serve it as a side dish with various types of kebabs, such as chicken jujeh kebabs, beef kabobs, or lamb. Its fresh and crisp flavor profile balances the hearty and savory taste of the meat.
- Rice Dishes: In keeping up with true Persian cuisine, enjoy your Shirazi salad with some crispy rice (Tahdig) or baghali polo (dill and fava bean rice), our yellow rice, or your favorite rice dishes.
- Stews: Persian stews, such as Ghormeh Sabzi (herb stew) or Fesenjan (pomegranate walnut stew), can be beautifully complemented by the fresh and tangy flavors of this salad.
- Grilled Fish: The acidity and freshness of Shirazi Salad make it a perfect companion for grilled fish.
- Flatbreads: Flatbreads like chapati, naan or pita are excellent for scooping up the salad.
- Feta Cheese: Enjoy it with a plate of feta cheese with olives for a tasty and refreshing appetizer or light lunch.
- Falafel or Dolmas: Middle Eastern vegetarian dishes such as falafel or dolmas (stuffed grape leaves) can also pair well with this salad.
- As a low-carb alternative, serve with konjac or cauliflower rice.
- when prepping the vegetables, deseed the tomatoes to prevent the salad from ending up soggy.
- use more or less herbs to suit your specific taste or preference.
refrigeration and freezing
This salad tastes best when served fresh. You can however, still make this salad ahead of time and chill it in the fridge for a couple of hours, just add the dressing before serving. If you decide to keep it in the fridge longer, then store it in suitable airtight containers for a maximum of 1-2 days (without the dressing). I do not recommend keeping it longer, as it will lose its crispiness or turn soggy. Similarly, I do not recommend freezing it.
Don't just stop here though. Feel free to play around with the ingredients in your pantry. Some of my favorite variations include:
- Dried small rose petals - will give the tomato and cucumber salad an amazing color and aroma. Simply rub a few between the palms of your hands and use these as a garnish.
- Sumac - stir in a teaspoon of sumac to add a spicy note.
- Pomegranate - half a cup of pomegranate seeds added to the salad will add a tangy and fruity flavor.
more world cuisine recipes
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Salad Shirazi Recipe
- 3 ripe and firm Roma tomatoes
- 1 small onion finely chopped
- 3 small Persian cucumbers (or 1 English cucumber - unpeeled)
- ½ cup mint and parsley leaves
- 1 small lime
- 2 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- ½ teaspoon salt (add more, if preferred)
- ⅓ teaspoon ground black pepper
- Wash the tomatoes, cucumber, mint and parsley leaves.
- Peel the onion, dice it finely then set aside. Finely slice the mint and parsley leaves.
- Next, cut the cucumber lengthwise then cut each half into approximately 1 cm thickness, running lengthwise. Cut again into thin long strips then dice into small cubes.
- Similarly, finely dice the tomatoes (remove seeds if too seedy, to prevent the salad from going watery).
- Combine the diced vegetables (tomatoes, onion, cucumber, parsley and mint leaves) in a medium-sized bowl.
- Cut the lime and squeeze out the juice to a small bowl.
- Combine lime juice, olive oil, salt and black pepper then whisk.
- Pour the salad dressing to the bowl with the chopped vegetables. You can check for salt at this point and add more if you need to.
- For best results, allow your Shirazi salad to rest in the fridge for at least 30 minutes, before serving. Serve as an appetizer or side dish. It pairs up absolutely well with meat-based dishes, such as kebabs.
- Shirazi salad is traditionally made using Persian cucumbers, which you can find in Middle-Eastern shops. But don't worry if you cannot get your hands on some, as you can simply substitute them with English cucumbers.
- This recipe is traditionally made using dried mint leaves but you can also use chopped fresh mint leaves and other herbs, such as parsley.
- You can make this salad ahead of time and chill it in the fridge for a couple of hours. For best results, add the dressing 15-30 minutes before serving. If you decide to keep it in the fridge longer, then store it in suitable airtight containers for a maximum of 1-2 days. I do not recommend keeping it longer, as it will lose its crispiness or turn soggy.
- Deseed the tomatoes to prevent the salad from ending up soggy.
- Dried small rose petals - these will add amazing color and aroma.
- Sumac - stir in a teaspoon of sumac to add a spicy note.
- Pomegranate - add half a cup of pomegranate seeds for a tangy and fruity flavor.