Yoghurt, both plain and with cucumbers, is a staple of Iranian tables – the thicker and sourer, the better. As a kid, I used yoghurt not only to balance sweetness and richness, but also to cool down food that was too hot to eat. Mast-o khiar is an everyday side, and one of my favourites. Dice, rather than grate, the cucumbers to keep them from getting watery, and don't skip the dried herbs, which add dimension to the fresh herbs.
¼ cup black or golden raisins
3 Persian cucumbers (about 230g)
3 cups Greek yoghurt or labna
2 tbsp any combination of finely chopped fresh parsley, coriander, basil, tarragon or dill
1 garlic clove, finely grated or pounded into a smooth paste with a pinch of salt
fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
¾ tsp ground or crumbled dried rose petals (optional)
1 tsp dried mint
1 tsp dried dill
3 tbsp walnuts, toasted and roughly chopped
1. In a small bowl, submerge the raisins in boiling water to plump for 10 minutes, then drain well.
2. Remove alternating stripes of peel on cucumbers and trim ends. Dice cucumbers into pieces and place in a large bowl with raisins, yoghurt, fresh herbs, garlic, three-quarters teaspoon salt, half teaspoon pepper and, if using, half the rose petals. Add dried mint and dried dill into the bowl. Stir to combine and adjust seasoning with salt as needed.
3. Just before serving, stir in the walnuts and transfer to serving bowl. Garnish with remaining rose petals, if using. Cover and refrigerate leftovers for up to three days.
This is one of Samin Nosrat's 10 essential Persian recipes.
Samin Nosrat is the author of Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat and star of the related Netflix show. This recipe originally appeared in The New York Times.