When I had just launched my blog a little more than 4 months ago, I didn’t know I would soon be receiving emails from around the world from people who at one point in their lives happened to be in Azerbaijan, whether for work or for travel. Some share their stories about the country, some write about their experience with local foods. Some request recipes for the dishes they loved the most. I love reading such emails!
One of such wonderful letters came from Kathy, a mom to an adoptive son from Azerbaijan. When her family visited Baku to complete their son’s adoption, Kathy recalls being treated to dolma and a mimosa salad she loved. In her email to me, Kathy was asking if I was familiar with that salad. And sure enough I was. Not because I am a genius:) but because it is a pretty popular salad in Azerbaijan. So finally, here is the recipe. My cousin’s wife Saida, with whom we share a passion for cooking, sent me her version of the salad, which I tried and loved! Cokh sagh ol (thank you), Saida!
About the recipe. Mimosa Salad is a layered salad. One of the many layered salads we make in Azerbaijan using a great variety of ingredients. This one is probably the most common and is served in many local restaurants and cafes in Baku, the capital. It tastes as delicious as its presentation is beautiful. Once done, Mimosa Salad really looks like a festive cake. Shh, dont’ tell you guests it isn’t. Let them be pleasantly surprised:)
I would like to dedicate this recipe to all the people who adopted children from Azerbaijani orphanages. And those who are in the process of adopting. I admire you not only for giving loving and caring homes to the little kids but also for doing everything possible to keep them connected with their Azerbaijani roots. I hope I can contribute to this connection at least a tiny-tiny bit with the food I share with you on my blog.
Preparation time: 15 minutes, plus 1-hour refrigeration
Cooking time: 20 minutes
Serves 6 to 10
1 pound (450 g) skinless boneless chicken breast halves
1/2 teaspoon salt, for boiling
1/2 cup walnuts, finely chopped
3 medium potatoes, boiled, peeled
2 eggs, boiled and peeled
3 medium carrots, boiled, and peeled
salt, to taste
6 tablespoons sour cream mixed with 6 tablespoons light mayonnaise – use about 2 tablespoons each time dressing is called for. Use more for a moister salad. Note: You can also use creamy plain yogurt for the dressing (it shouldn’t be sour). Alternatively, use sour cream or mayonnaise only. If using mayonnaise only, be extra careful not to oversalt your salad since mayo is pretty salty by itself.
gouda cheese (In Azerbaijan: Holland Pendiri), shredded
1. Place the chicken in a pot with about four cups of water. Add salt. Bring to a boil. Cook for about 20 minutes or until chicken is tender. Drain and set aside. When cool enough to handle, cut the chicken into thin strips using knife or tear it into small pieces using your hands.
2. Grate boiled and peeled potato, carrots, and eggs on a coarse side of a box grater.
3. On a round serving plate, EVENLY layer the ingredients in the following order (do not mix!)
half the chicken
half the walnuts
half the potato
half the eggs
half the carrots
Repeat in the same order with the remaining ingredients, finishing with carrots.
4. Spread some dressing on top and around the sides of the salad to give it a cake-looking appearance. Top the salad with some shredded Gouda Cheese. I used fresh pomegranate seeds. Just use your imagination and you’ll have a fabulous cake, oops, a salad at the end!
And as we say in Azerbaijan – Nush Olsun! (read: noosh olsoon)