If you go to Istanbul expecting kebabs, meatballs and other chunks of protein, you might be pleased to find that there is also a rich tradition of salads, cooked vegetable dishes (especially aubergine) and dolmades, or stuffed vegetables. This simple salad pops up all over the place, and it’s a really good accompaniment for meat dishes – the fresh vegetables and tart lemon juice counter the wonderful oily richness of Turkish food like nothing else.
I made this last night, but the photo at the top of the page is of an identical salad I ate in a little restaurant next to the Bosphorus – unfortunately, I still don’t have my camera so couldn’t photograph last night’s version. Mine turned out pretty much exactly like the restaurant one, though: this is a very quick, very easy dish with half an hour’s thumb-twiddling in the middle.
To serve four, you’ll need:
4 medium tomatoes, very ripe
1 very mild onion
1 large handful flat leaf parsley
1 mild green chilli
6 tablespoons olive oil
Juice of half a lemon (and more to taste)
Slice the onion very finely and chop the parsley roughly. Put them together in a bowl and squeeze over the juice of half a lemon and two tablespoons of olive oil. Set aside for thirty minutes before you put the rest of the dish together.
When the thirty minutes is up, dice the tomatoes and peel and dice the cucumber – the pieces of tomato and cucumber should be small and even. Slice the chilli into thin rings. Mix the chilli, tomatoes and cucumber together in your serving dish and dress with the remaining olive oil and a squeeze of lemon juice. Place the onion slices and parsley on top of the dish and pour over any oily juices from the bowl. Bring the salad to the table with the onion on top, then allow the diners to mix it up themselves.