Salad Olivieh is a chicken and potato salad that has won most if not every Iranian’s heart! To mention Salad Olivieh to an Iranian is to watch an excited smiling face staring back at you and to hear tales of where and how they used to eat this salad. Most of us would have it wrapped in a thin lavash style of bread and eat it as a sandwich.
Salad Olivieh, originally a Russian dish, gained international fame at the turn of the century and became wildly popular. Because of Iran’s proximity to Russia, a number of Russian dishes have found their way to Iran via the Caspian Sea area.
Despite its Russian origin, Salad Olivieh is to Iranians as apple pie is to Americans. Every household has its own unique version, which of course is better than any other. I, of course, can honestly say that my mom’s version is best of all!
So what exactly is this world-famous Russian dish that has become so well integrated into many cuisines around the globe? Well, essentially it is a potato salad, but with other ingredients added to dial up the flavor, texture, and visual interest. Here are some of the additions that might find their way into the Iranian version:
Carrots, onions, green onions or scallions, chicken, olives, pickles, radishes, celery, green peas, hard-boiled eggs, all sorts of herbs, vinegar, olive oil, and a lot of mayonnaise!
My version is somewhat different from some of the more traditional ones. I have reduced the quantity of potatoes and played up all the other vegetables. With fewer potatoes, I naturally reduced the amount of mayonnaise. In the past, I have sometimes completely eliminated the chicken and added chickpeas instead to make it a satisfying vegetarian meal.
I wonder what ingredients you will choose to put in your Salad Olivieh to make it the best recipe in the world!
- 2 pieces chicken, breasts or thighs
- 1 small onion, quartered
- 1 teaspoon salt, divided
- 6-8 medium yukon gold potatoes, approximately 1.5 to 2 pounds
- 1 cup frozen peas, thawed
- 2 carrots, diced
- 2 celery stalks, diced
- 2 radishes, diced or slivered
- 2 green onions, sliced
- 1/2 cup cucumber pickles, diced
- 1/2 cup black olives, sliced
- 3 eggs, hardboiled and sliced
- 1/2 cup fresh parsley, chopped
- 2 tablespoons chives, chopped
- 1/2 to 1 cup Mayonnaise
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1/4 cup vinegar, white or apple cider
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper, ground
- Place the chicken pieces, onion and 1/2 teaspoon salt in a pan with enough cool water to cover the chicken. Bring to a gentle boil.
- Once boiling, reduced heat, cover and cook for 1 hour or until the chicken has softened and can be easily shredded.
- Remove the chicken from the pan, allow to cool and roughly shred using two forks. Place the shredded chicken in a large mixing bowl.
- While the chicken is cooking, place the potatoes with 1/2 teaspoon of salt in a medium sized pan with enough water to cover the potatoes.
- Cook for 20-25 minutes or until the potatoes are cooked.
- Take care to not over cook the potatoes so that they can maintain their texture in the salad. Once cooked, drain, rinse and peel the potatoes and cut into 1 inch pieces.
- Place in the large mixing bowl with the chicken.
Peas and carrots
- In a small saucepan, combine the peas and the carrots, cover with water and cook for 6-8 minutes on medium heat or until the carrots have slightly softened.
- Drain and add to the mixing bowl with chicken and potatoes.
- Bring approximately 2-3 cups of water to a boil. Gently place the eggs in the boiling water, cover and simmer over medium heat for 8 minutes. Once cooked, shell, slice and add to the main bowl.
Herbs and other vegetables
- Add the remaining herbs and vegetable to the main bowl and gently mix.
- In a medium sized mixing bowl combine all the dressing ingredients and mix using a whisk. Depending on the amount of mayonnaise used you will have a slightly thicker dressing.
- Spread the mayonnaise over the potato and chicken salad and gently mix.
- Place the salad in a serving bowl and attempt to create a dome shaped structure with a smooth surface. Add more mayonnaise to create this smooth surface if desired.
- Decorate with olives, peas or radishes and serve with Persian flatbreads.