sekanjibeen is an ancient Persian syrup, concocted from vinegar, sugar and mint, which can be drizzled over salad leaves, or mixed with ice and water for a refreshing summer drink. My mum used to buy readymade mint sauce and make little bowls of sekanjibeen for us to snack on when the weather turned warm, accompanied by cold, crunchy wedges of lettuce, which we would take it in turns to dip. Here, the classic sekanjibeen flavours brighten up a quick and easy cucumber salad that can be served alongside a barbecue or stew, or eaten as part of a mezze. Keep the cucumber in the fridge until just before assembling the salad so it stays crisp and cool.
For a traditional, lighter snack, simply mix the vinegar, honey and mint together in a dipping bowl and add some Romaine lettuce leaves on the side, for dipping.
40ml cider vinegar
2 tbsp honey
10g mint leaves, very finely chopped
2 tsp light olive oil
2 regular cucumbers (around 600g)
A handful of pomegranate seeds
¼ tsp sea salt
In a small bowl, whisk together the vinegar, honey, mint and olive oil.
Cut the cucumbers in half and scoop out the seeds with a teaspoon, then thinly slice on a diagonal into 5mm slices and place in a serving bowl.
Drizzle over the salad dressing. Sprinkle with a handful of pomegranate seeds and season with the salt. Mix well and serve immediately.
Serves 4–6 as a side
Extract taken from The Saffron Tales published by Bloomsbury, £26, Hardback, Photography © Shahrzad Darafsheh and Matt Russell