Persian shirazi salad, aka salad-e shirazi, is a finely chopped cucumber and tomato salad with dried crushed mint, olive oil, and lemon juice.
My Persian cousin, Molly, gave me all the tips and tricks for this authentic chopped salad shirazi. I even had a follow-up call with my Aunt LeeAnn to ensure I had every step down exactly how they make it at home.
Shirazi salad originated in the beautiful city of Shiraz in southwestern Iran. It's a year-round salad side dish that's easy to make. Quality olive oil and fresh ingredients are key to this bright and flavorful chopped salad.
What I Love About This Salad
Authentic shirazi salad is a simple salad with few ingredients. This traditional Shirazi salad is one of the most popular Persian salads. It's quick to whip up, and it's unbelievably delicious.
The crunchy sweetness from the crisp Persian cucumbers and Roma tomatoes combines with freshly squeezed lemon and bright dried mint leaves. Shirazi salad is a perfect side dish to accompany any main course or grilled meats.
- Small Persian cucumbers or large English cucumber: It's important to use seedless cucumbers. Also, Persian and English cucumbers have a thin skin that doesn't need to be removed. Other types of cucumbers are bitter, too watery, and have thick skin.
- Tomatoes: The two best tomatoes for this salad are Roma tomatoes and grape tomatoes. But, you can use any type of ripe, firm tomatoes.
- Red onion: The best onion for this recipe is red onion.
- Dried Mint: A key ingredient for this Persian salad is dried mint. Fresh mint does not have the same flavor as dried mint and should not be substituted.
- High-quality extra virgin olive oil
See substitutions below and the recipe card at the bottom of the post for quantities.
How To Make Shirazi Salad
Squeeze the lemon separating the seeds from the lemon juice in a small bowl. Crush the dried mint with your hands and add it to the lemon juice.
Pro tip: If eating this salad later, keep the dried mint and lemon juice separated until ready to serve.
Cut the red onion in half. Slice longways. Turn the red onion 90 degrees and finely chop the onion into small pieces.
Cut the ends off the Persian cucumber. Slice the cucumber in half. Slice each half into long strips. Turn the cucumber 90 degrees to chop finely.
Chopping Tip: chop all of the vegetables finely to the same size.
Cut the Roma tomatoes in half. Scoop the seeds out of the tomatoes with a spoon.
Slice the tomatoes into long strips. Turn 90 degrees and finely chop the Roma tomatoes.
Add the chopped Persian cucumbers, Roma tomatoes, and finely diced red onion to a large bowl. Pour the lemon juice and dried mint mixture on top.
Mix the chopped ingredients to coat each piece with lemon juice fully. Right before serving Shirazi salad, pour extra virgin olive oil on top. Add a pinch of salt and black pepper to taste.
- If you wash the cucumber skins, you don't need to peel the cucumbers.
- If eating this salad later, don't make the dressing until before serving.
Substitutions & Variations
Here are a few substitutions and variations for this Shirazi salad recipe:
- Substitute white onion for the red onion. Do not use yellow onion or sweet onion because they are too sweet.
- You can substitute an English cucumber for every 3 Persian cucumbers.
- Don't use regular cucumbers found in the U.S. These large cucumbers have thick skin and bitter seeds. English and Persian cucumbers have fewer seeds.
- Limes, lemons, or Persian limes can be used.
- Grape tomatoes are an excellent substitution for Roma tomatoes.
- Traditional salad shirazi uses only these ingredients, but you can dress up the salad with whatever you like. For example, fresh herbs like chopped fresh parsley go well with this bright and citrusy dressing.
I recommend using a sharp chef's knife and cutting board to make this Persian salad. You will also need a large enough bowl to mix the salad.
If making this Persian salad ahead of time, don't add lemon juice, olive oil, or salt to the chopped vegetables. These ingredients break down the cucumbers and tomatoes, altering the taste. Also, the salad will not be crunchy.
Store the chopped cucumbers, onions, and tomatoes in the fridge without the dressing for up to 2 days. Once you are ready to eat the salad, mix the dried mint and lemon juice. Add the salt and pepper to taste. Pour the olive oil at the end.