Sunday 7 February 2010

Salad Olivier....Tehranian Chicken and Potato Salad

The first time that I ate Salad Olivier was at a family gathering at my mother-in-law’s home. From then on I’d often see it on the buffet table at Iranian parties or gatherings, decorated with olives and gherkin.

It’s a simple potato salad made with chicken, boiled eggs, gherkins and limes or lemons. It’s not traditional Persian food but was apparently brought to Iran by white Russian travellers and can only be found in the capital Tehran. It definitely does have an Eastern European vibe and is great for picnics and packed lunches or quick snack with crusty French bread.

It’s probably one of the first foods that I learned at the elbows of my lovely cuddly mother-in-law.

Here is Bibi Sham’s recipe for Salad Olivier:-


. Cooked chicken breast. This is best poached in water seasoned with sea salt and crushed black pepper. I often use chicken thighs as the meat is moist but a little more work is involved removing the bones. Any chicken left over from Sunday roast will do too.
. Boiled potatoes. Bibi would boil hers whole with the skin left on and then peel them.
. Hard boiled eggs. As ever practical, Bibi would wash the eggs and put them in the same saucepan as the potatoes.
. Mayonnaise
. Fresh lime or lemon
. Sea salt and crushed black pepper
. Gherkins. 

Mama would always use gherkins preserved in salt water and not vinegar. I use Israeli ones that we buy from a delicatessen in London. But you can use the ones preserved in vinegar too. I love the Polish ones with dill. They are a little bit bigger and nice and juicy

Mama's recipes and quantities are a little bit imprecise. She made food by instinct and by taste and it always turned out amazing. She was probably the best cook I've ever known. I have subsequently found a recipe for salad olivier that prescribes precise amounts for the ingredients.
Equal amounts by weight of chicken, mayonnaise, potatoes, egg and gherkin. With two eggs being equivalent to 4oz or 125gms and one lemon to 4oz of ingredients.
Like mama I tend to go use a little guess work.


  1.  Shred the chicken finely
  2.  Crush the potatoes
  3.  Peel and chop the eggs
  4.  Chop the gherkins finely
  5.  Combine all these ingredients
  6. .Add the mayonnaise and fresh lemon juice to taste. Add more seasoning if necessary.
  7. Put into a serving dish and cover with a layer of mayonnaise to prevent the salad from drying out and decorate with gherkins and olives and tomatoes. 

I have seen huge beautifully deorated ones at weddings looking like works of art. Mine is a little more rustic...
It will keep quite well in the fridge for a couple of days...if it doesn't get eaten before that...

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