Persian potato chicken salad

Persian potato chicken salad

Salad olivieh (or Persian potato chicken salad) is an Iranian picnic classic. Olivieh is a delicious potato salad fortified with chicken, eggs, pickles and peas. Well seasoned and dressed with mayonnaise, salad olivieh is served as an appetizer along with other Iranian finger foods. It also makes a delicious filling for baguette sandwiches. No matter how you serve this Persian potato chicken salad, I hope you enjoy it as much as we do! 

Persian potato chicken salad

after school noshing…Iranian style

It feels like only yesterday I’d come home from a grueling day of middle school [I was nerdy and wildly unpopular] exhausted and famished. Hot days in late May, right before summer vacation, were especially difficult as I’d walk home lugging a huge backpack, my PE bag, and the old clarinet I played in marching band. The only reprieve from what seemed like a lifetime of adolescent awkwardness was returning home to loving family and home made food.
Salad olivieh (Persian potato chicken salad) was a staple in our home. My mom loved to make a large batch of olivieh to keep in the fridge for a quick nosh. Many afternoons I’d find a beautiful platter of Olivieh ready for an after-school snack. I’d drop my bags by the front door, pile a mountain of olivieh on my plate and dig in with lavash. I’d bite into that satisfying olivieh sandwich while watching my favorite show, “Hey Arnold”. It was heaven!
My mom’s Persian potato chicken salad is a summertime comfort food that I wanted to recreate in my own kitchen. After consulting with maman I tested the ingredient proportions, translating “a bit of” and a “smidge” into cups and teaspoons. Now you and I can both recreate maman’s salad olivieh in our own kitchens!

Salad Olivieh and Its Origins

Salad olivieh, originated as Olivier salad and was invented by Belgium chef, Lucien Olivier, in Moscow. Olivier salad has its roots in Russia but it has traveled throughout the world. Like many international foods, olivier has picked up influences and alterations along the way. Many different countries have their version of Olivier with variations on ingredients and techniques.
Even within Iranian families, there are many different ways to cook and serve salad olivieh (as Iranians call it). Some families include carrots while others use lemon juice and everyone uses their own amount of mayonnaise. This salad olivieh recipe is based on the classic version my mother makes. It has been tested, tried and true, for over 30 years

How to make Persian potato chicken salad step by step:

Persian potato chicken salad (salad olivieh) is an easy recipe but it requires separate preparation of several different ingredients. The main cooking techniques used in this recipe are chopping and boiling. If you can boil water, you can make salad olivieh!

  • First you’ll poach the chicken with an onion and some garlic to add flavor. 
Persian potato chicken salad
  • Then shred the cooked chicken and set it aside in a large bowl. The large batch of salad olivieh will be made in this container. Grab a bowl that is big enough!
  • Next up, you’ll drop the potatoes in some cold water and bring them up to a boil. Once the potatoes are really soft, you’ll drain them and add them to the chicken. 
  • Now you’ll hard boil some eggs (super easy) and add them to the chicken mixture. 
  • For your final boil of the recipe, you’ll simmer frozen peas with water until they’re cooked and tender. Peas are tiny so they cook really quickly. 
  • You’ll mix all of your precooked ingredients with some Persian pickles (see note about ingredients) and good quality mayonnaise. 
Persian potato chicken salad
  • Refrigerate the olivieh until completely chilled, garnish and serve! 

A Note on Pickles

To get the right flavor profile for salad olivieh, it’s imperative that you use the right type of pickles. Ideally, you would use Iranian pickles (like these). Iranian pickles use Persian cucumbers, known for their smaller size and thinner skin than regular cucumbers. They are also fermented in brine without any added sugar. 

While wonderful Iranian markets were easily accessible in the Silicon Valley, I have yet to find comparable markets in Manhattan. If you don’t live near an international market, use these tips to find a suitable supermarket alternative: 

  • Go straight to the refrigerator aisle. Pickles that are found in the refrigerator are usually fermented the old fashioned way, using only water and kosher salt. This fermentation process and lack of vinegar or sugar, helps approximate the flavor of Iranian pickles. 
  • Look for the words ‘deli’ or ‘kosher style’
  • Check the ingredients list: you should see only cucumbers, water, salt (or kosher salt) and perhaps some dill and spices. 
  • As a last resort, buy the pickles found in the center aisle of super markets. However, steer clear of ‘bread and butter’ pickles or any pickles that have added sugar. These varieties are too sweet and will impact the flavor of your olivieh. 

Persian Pickled Cucumbers in brine are my favorite Persian pickles. You can buy them online (for a markup) or find similar versions at international markets. These Manhattan style pickles from Sonoma Brinery are an acceptable substitute. Find them online or at your local Trader Joe’s.

Persian potato chicken salad

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I make salad olivieh without chicken? 

Yes! It won’t be authentic salad olivieh, you can omit the chicken and reduce the mayonnaise to ½ cup to start. Add more mayonnaise if the mixture is too dry. 

Can I make salad olivieh using chicken thighs? 

Yes! You can substitute chicken thighs (boneless and skinless) just follow the instructions as written.

How should I store salad olivieh? 

Preferably keep the leftover olivieh in a glass tupperware with a tight fitting lid. Refrigerate for 3-4 days. 

How long will salad olivieh last?

Salad olivieh contains cooked chicken and it is recommended to use cooked chicken within 3-4 days of preparing. Keep it refrigerated in a 40 degree Fahrenheit or colder fridge. 

Can I freeze salad olivieh?

Salad olivieh contains eggs and mayonnaise, neither of which freeze very well. I don’t recommend freezing salad olivieh because it will be watery once thawed and the texture won’t be pleasant. 

How to serve salad oivieh?

Persian families serve salad olivieh at almost every picnic and luncheon. It can be served as part of a larger luncheon buffet with a plate of lavash flatbread bread nearby. You can also slice a French baguette down the center, remove some of the bread and fill the center with mounds of salad olivier. Find your perfect picnic spot and enjoy!

If you get a chance to try this olivieh recipe, please be sure to leave a rating and comment below. In the meantime, be sure to check out these other Persian recipes on SepCooks:

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persian potato chicken salad

Persian potato chicken salad | Salad Olivieh


  • Author: Sepideh Esmaili Campos
  • Total Time: 0 hours
  • Yield: serves 46 people 1x

Ingredients

Units Scale
  • 2 chicken breasts (about 1.5 pounds) boneless and skinless
  • 1 medium yellow onion, sliced
  • 3 garlic cloves, smashed and peeled
  • Kosher salt
  • 2 russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 inch cubes
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups fresh or frozen peas
  • 3/41 1/4 cup good quality store-bought mayonnaise (I use Primal Kitchen Mayonnaise made with avocado oil)
  • 1 cup finely diced Persian pickles (about 2-3 pickles)
  • Olives, radishes, extra pickles or fresh dill for garnish (optional)
  • Crusty baguette for serving (optional)

Instructions

  1. Put the chicken, onion, garlic, and 2 teaspoons of kosher salt in a 12-inch saute pan or medium pot. Cover the chicken with cold filtered water and bring the water to a boil over high heat. 
  2. Once the water boils, reduce the heat to medium, cover the pot partially with its lid and simmer until the chicken is fully cooked, 15-20 minutes. The chicken is cooked when it registers 160 degrees Fahrenheit on an instant read thermometer inserted into its thickest side. 
  3. Transfer the poached chicken onto a plate and set aside until cool enough to handle. 
  4. Discard the water, onions and garlic that you used to flavor the chicken. Set the pot aside to use later for the potatoes and eggs. 
  5. Using two forks or clean hands, shred the cooked chicken. 
  6. Place the shredded chicken in a large mixing bowl and set aside. 
  7. Place the potatoes in the saute pan. Cover the potatoes with cold water and add ½ teaspoon salt. 
  8. Bring the water to a boil over high heat. Once the water boils, reduce the heat to medium low and partially cover the pot with its lid. 
  9. Cook until the potatoes easily fall apart when pierced with a fork, about 25 minutes. 
  10. Drain the potatoes and add the hot potatoes to the shredded chicken. 
  11. Fill the saute pan with 2 inches of water and bring to a boil. Once the water is boiling, use tongs to lower the eggs into the hot water. 
  12. Cover the pan with its lid, reduce the heat to low and cook the eggs for 9 minutes. 
  13. Remove the eggs from the hot liquid using tongs, set aside to cool. Once the eggs are cool enough to handle, peel the eggs. 
  14. Chop the peeled eggs finely and add them to the chicken mixture. 
  15. In the same pot that you cooked the eggs in, add the peas, 1 ½ cups water and ½ teaspoon salt. Cover the pot with the lid and bring to a boil over high heat. 
  16. Once the water is boiling, reduce the heat to medium and cook the peas for 5 minutes. 
  17. Drain the peas and add them to the chicken mixture. 
  18. Add 1 Cup of mayonnaise and the pickles to the chicken mixture. Use a wooden spoon to thoroughly combine everything together. The mixture will be chunky but will hold together like tuna salad. 
  19. Taste the salad olivieh and add more salt (¼ teaspoon at a time) if desired. You can also add more mayonnaise if you want a creamier salad. 
  20. Mound the salad olivieh onto a serving platter and garnish with extra pickles, olives, or fresh dill. 
  21. Cover the salad olivieh with plastic wrap and refrigerate until fully chilled, about 1 hour. 
  22. Serve the olivieh with a side of pita bread, as a filling for a baguette sandwich or on a mezze table with a variety of Persian finger foods. 
  23. Leftover olivieh can be covered and kept in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. 
  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Cook Time: 60 minutes inactive cooking
  • Category: Summer
  • Cuisine: Persian

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6 Comments

  1. I could say that this recipe is by far one of the best recipes I’ve ever tried! Thank you Sep for this amazing and easy to make Salad Olivieh recipe!

  2. Reliable step-by-step recipe that turns out delicious Persian potato chicken salad! SepCooks makes Persian staples accessible for any palate. Thanks!

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