Almost Turkish Recipes

Purslane Tomato Salad (Pirpirim / Semizotu Piyazı)

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.

Weekend Herb Blogging, founded by Kalyn, is hosted this week by Haalo of Cook (almost) Anything at Least Once.


  1. I just found some purslane growing in a crack in my yard!

    I enjoy this in salad when in Greece and they are wonderful against tomtoes.

  2. For some reason I didn't get much purslane in the garden this year, and it's not that I was weeding so carefully either! I do like it though, and love the idea of using it in a salad with sumac and paprika. I love lemon too, this is a winner!

  3. too bad I have never really seen purslane here!

  4. I've never had purslane before. Will definitely keep an eye out for it.

  5. i think i love you! lahmacun--is my all time favorite dish and my husband always asks me to make baklava for his birthday. we ate and eat a lot of purslane here because it grows so well in my gravel path. soups and salads. your photos are stunning!

  6. Anonymous12:48 PM

    To my knowledge, purslane is considered a weed here in the United States. Too bad:) because it is really delicious! In Azerbaijan we pickle them for winter. It was in fact my childhood hobby - picking up purslane from our small garden and jarring it:)

    This salad looks so good! I wonder when purslane will be "legalized" in the States. If it has been already, please let me know where I can buy it.

  7. What a refreshing sounding salad. I must get some purslane.

  8. what does purslane taste like? can you describe it?

  9. I haven't seen any purslane for sale around here. Is there a substitute plant or herb?

  10. Thank you all for your comments and sharing my love of purslane. As for the questions;

    Anna-purslane has a crisp, citrusy taste. Kind of like baby spinach, but with a little sour touch.

    nate-n-annie-i checked Cook's Thesaurus for you, and it suggests watercress and spinach for purslane. But, honestly I don't see any similarity other than they're all green.

  11. Anonymous11:17 AM

    Ms Burcu, you are right, purslane (pirpirim ,i'm southerner :) ) tastes nothing like watercress or
    or spinach.. i think it tastes a bit like cucumber sprinkled with lemon.
    Have you ever tried cacik with purslane instead of cucumber? It tastes delicious as well..
    THANK YOU for sharing all these wonderful recepipes. My 14 year old daughter loves your site as much as I do.

  12. Anonymous4:18 PM

    I lived in Urfa for 2 1/2 years and this salad sounds very similar to the Urfali cold gazpacho-like soup known as bostana but I don't really know what the difference is. My bostana recipes read more like your pirpirim salad and I've always been convinced that they're somehow incorrect or missing something....Does anyone know if bostana has more pomegranite syrup/nar eksisi? Every now and then I see purslane at the farmer's market or in Latino markets here but it's so hard to find...You can grow purslane easily in a sunny spot during the summer. It has a lemony bite and a firm succulent texture. I would drop it from the recipe rather than substitute spinach or watercress for it.
    --Sue Ann

  13. Sue Ann, sorry for my late response. You're right, Bostana is similar to pirpirim piyazi, but not the same. Bostana has way less purslane. It also asks for fresh mint, and a lot of pomegranate juice/molasses. All the herbes and vegetables are chopped very very finely.