This salad is Russian in origin but is so popular in Azerbaijan that it has become part of the national cuisine.
The name “paytaxt salatı” is a direct Azerbaijani translation of the Russian name “stolichniy salat” or “capital city salad”. The salad is also known as “salat Olivier” in Russian, Azerbaijani and other languages, after the French chef Lucien Olivier who devised the dish in Moscow in the 1860s. The original Olivier is thought to have been made with grouse, not chicken, and to have contained other delicacies such as capers and crayfish. The salad became popular in pre-revolutionary Russia and evolved during the Soviet era to the version that is widespread today across the former Soviet countries. The names “paytakht salati” and “salat Olivye” are largely interchangeable in Azerbaijan, although some say that a paytakht salati contains chicken, while a salat Olivye contains beef. The basic ingredients of the salad in Azerbaijan are potatoes, hard-boiled eggs, fresh or pickled cucumbers, bottled peas and mayonnaise. Chicken, beef, luncheon meat or crabsticks can all be used. A meat-free version of the salad is tasty too. News.Az is grateful to Gullu Cahangir for allowing us to use her recipe and photograph for chicken and potato salad, taken from her informative website Azerifood.com. Gullu’s superior version of the salad includes an apple for extra tang, radishes and sour cream.
Preparation time: 50 mins
Cooking time: 15 min
3 large or 4 medium-sized potatoes
2 medium-sized carrots
1 large Azerbaijani cucumber or half a Dutch cucumber (Azerbaijani cucumbers resemble the shorter garden cucumbers and have more bite and flavour than the longer Dutch and English cucumbers)
5 medium-sized gherkins or more, according to taste
3-5 radishes, depending on size
1 or 1 1/2 apples
2 chicken breasts (or a similar quantity of beef)
2 x 200g/8 oz jars or cans of green peas (the peas have to be processed – fresh or frozen garden peas won’t give the right flavour)
5 spring onions
salt & pepper
2 tablespoons of sour cream
3 tablespoons of mayonnaise
1 teaspoon of mustard
Hard-boil the eggs, boil the chicken, potatoes and carrots and leave to cool.
Strain the canned peas, making sure that no liquid is left.
Dice the cooked vegetables, cucumbers, gherkins, radishes, apple and chicken into small cubes of equal size.
Dice the egg and crumble into smaller pieces. Chop the spring onions.
Put the diced ingredients in a large bowl. Add the peas and salt & pepper and mix well.
In a separate bowl, mix the sour cream, mayonnaise and mustard. Be careful not to overdo it with the sour cream or the dressing will become too liquid. Add extra mustard if you prefer a hotter dressing.
Pour the dressing over the salad and mix well.
Serve in a salad bowl or glass dish. You can make Gullu’s toadstool decoration with a hard boiled egg for the base and half a tomato.