Recipe by Raghavan Iyer

Grandmother Ida’s Russian Potato Salad

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Parve Parve
Medium Medium
4 Servings


- Egg
40 Minutes

Scott Edwin Givot, a soulmate (a past president of the International Association of Culinary Professionals) and traveling companion, originally from Chicago, then Minneapolis, and now settled in Norway, reminisced about his grandmother Ida’s potato salad. The salad reflected her history and background, and what an interesting one at that. Married at the age of seventeen, she was swept into her husband’s underground world of smuggling diamonds (in Scott’s father’s diaper when he was a baby!), drugs, guns, and more. Grandma Ida’s ancestral roots were a hodgepodge, ranging from Crimean to Catalan, Hungarian, and French. This Russian salad was special to her and to Scott, a summer tradition they shared in the kitchen as she gave him advice on all that life could throw at him. A spoonful of this gave me evidence of equilibrium in her tumultuous life—a true fine balance of taste, color, temperature, and texture. 



  • 1 and 1/2 pounds new red potatoes

  • 6 medium-size to large red radishes, scrubbed, trimmed, and thinly sliced

  • 4 ribs celery, leaves discarded, thinly sliced

  • 1 large English cucumber, peeled, cut in half lengthwise, seeds discarded, and thinly sliced 

  • 4 scallions, beards trimmed, green tops and white bulbs thinly sliced

  • 1/4 cup baby capers, drained

  • 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh dill

  • 1/2 cup finely chopped fresh chives


  • 6 anchovy fillets

  • 2 egg yolks

  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard (for Passover, omit or substitute with imitation mustard)

  • 2 large cloves garlic, crushed

  • 1/4 cup Bartenura Extra-Virgin Olive Oil

  • 1/4 cup canola oil (for Passover, use any neutral-flavored oil)


Prepare the Salad


Scrub the potatoes well under running water, cut them in half, and place them in a medium-size saucepan. Cover them with cold water and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Briskly boil the potatoes, uncovered, until they are just tender but still firm, 12 to 15 minutes. Take care not to overcook the potatoes.


Drain the potatoes in a colander and rinse them under cold running water to cool them down. Give the colander a few good shakes to rid the potatoes of excess water, and transfer them to a large bowl. Add the radishes, celery, cucumber, scallions, capers, dill, and chives to the potatoes.

Prepare the Dressing


Place the anchovy fillets, egg yolks, mustard, and garlic in a blender jar and puree, turning off the blender and scraping the inside of the jar as needed, until smooth.


Combine the two oils together in a small bowl. With the blender on low speed, drizzle the oils through the hole in the cover in a steady stream. Once the oils are added, you will have a thick emulsion, which is your own homemade mayonnaise.


Add the Worcestershire, lemon juice, cayenne, salt, and peppercorns and pulse the dressing to ensure a smooth mix.

To Serve


Pour the dressing over the salad and give it all a good toss. Serve at room temperature, but because this is a mayonnaise-based salad, do not leave it at room temperature for long periods of time.


Excerpted from Smashed, Mashed, Boiled, and Baked—and Fried, Too! by Raghavan Iyer (Workman Publishing). Copyright © 2016.

Grandmother Ida’s Russian Potato Salad

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