Daffodil-Like Egg Salad. Nergisleme. Intrigued by the name? I was too, when I spotted the recipe in my current Turkish cookbook crush, Essential Turkish Cuisine by Engin Akin.
Hailing from Turkey’s southeastern city of Diyarbakir, nergisleme is a simple salad made with boiled eggs and copious amounts of fresh, aromatic herbs seasoned with tangy sumac and crushed hot red pepper. Once made mainly during the spring holiday Novruz to symbolize its arrival, over time, nergisleme became a popular picnic food enjoyed across the region.
The dish takes its name from Turkish nergis, or daffodil. Why the name? Because the colors in the salad resemble those in the flower – white, yellow, and green!
My digging into the history behind the dish led me to a few local sources mentioning the Daffodil Legend. The story goes that one day in a faraway village in the region, women came up with a new meal by combining cubes of boiled eggs and fresh herbs they picked from their gardens. They liked the egg-herbs concoction so much that they made the salad every day. There was a beautiful lady by the name of Nergis whose salad always turned out the best. So much so that the villagers gave the salad her name – nergisleme. Every day, the women tossed the salad leftovers on the ground for the birds to peck away. Time passed, and one day, they spotted beautiful flowers on the exact same spots they left the scraps. The flowers were yellow and white, just like in the nergisleme they made. The villagers called the flower nergis after the same beautiful woman.
Lucky Nergis, I should say. True or made up, it is a lovely story, isn’t it?
Hope you enjoy your nergisleme!
- Hard-boiled eggs (as many as desired), cooled, peeled, and diced
- Fresh green onions, finely chopped (green and white parts)
- Fresh parsley, finely chopped
- Fresh dill, finely chopped
- 1 fresh red hot pepper, finely chopped (can substitute dried crushed red pepper flakes to taste)
- Sumac to taste
- Salt to taste
- Extra-virgin olive oil (optional)
- Toss together the eggs with enough green onions, parsley, and dill to equal the volume of the eggs, then add the red pepper and sumac and salt to taste.
- Drizzle with some olive oil, if using.
- Serve at room temperature.