I first had this purslane salad in Gaziantep, a city in southeastern Turkey at a kebap house. My childhood friend Özge, an archeologist by training, and I were on an archeological/historical tour covering three southeastern cities Adıyaman, Gaziantep, and Urfa. After watching the sunset at Mt. Nemrut in Adıyaman, we hopped on a minibus, arrived in Gaziantep late at night and found one of the restaurants that were recommended by friends from Gaziantep. With the first meal and baklava we had at our first stop, İmam Çağdaş kebap and baklava house in one of the narrow streets of Gaziantep, we knew that ours would be a culinary trip rather than an archeological one.
When we were served this purslane salad as a side with a variety of Antep kebaps and lahmacun–my all time favorite dish–that we sampled that night, I must admit that it did not receive the attention from us that it deserved. However, you would agree that after a long exhausting day of traveling, meeting with friends, climbing Mt. Nemrut, exploring Adıyaman, and doing all those things under the brutal southeastern sun in mid August, what one craves for is not a healthy salad. We were in the baklava and kebap capital of Turkey, after all. Two days later when we were leaving Gaziantep, we noticed that everyone on the plane, including the pilots, flight attendants, and us–of course, had at least two boxes of baklava with them, the best souvenir from Gaziantep. I had three.
Although I thought neither of us paid any attention to the purslane salad that night, I never forgot it and the perfect combination of purslane with fresh vegetables and paprika. I had the chance to have purslane salad at a dinner over at a Gaziantepli friend’s house, and get the recipe. In Gaziantep purslane is called pirpirim as oppsed to semizotu, a common name for purslane in the western part of Turkey.
1 bunch purslane ( 1 lb), washed and chopped in small pieces, stems discarded
1/2 bunch flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
2 tomatoes, diced
1 cucumber, peeled and thinly cut in half moon shape
1-2 green peppers (anaheim, Hungarian wax, banana, etc.), finely chopped
1 red pepper pepper, finely chopped
1 onion, cut in thin half moons
juice of half lemon
1 tsp pomegranete syrup (if you cannot find it, use juice of one lemon in stead of half)
1 tsp sumac powder or flakes
2-3 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp paprika (I used 1 1/2 tsp of a spicy variety)
-Put thin half moon shape onion in a bowl. Scatter 2 tsp salt on top. Rub onion with salt for a minute. Rinse salt off the onion with water. Drain.
-Put all the ingredients in bowl, season with lemon juice, pomegranate syrup, olive oil, sumac, paprika, and salt.