Tuesday, 18 May 2010

TZATZIKI or YOGURT AND CUCUMBER APPETIZER


This is a popular Greek appetizer, or mezĂ©, or dip... There are many ways in which to serve it. It certainly makes an interesting dip served with some pita chips. It can accompany souvlaki or other grilled meats, and it can go on the meze table as an appetizer with drinks before dinner. It's a ubiquitous dish in Greek homes, especially when the weather is warm. The yoghurt, dill and cucumber make a refreshing combination, something very welcome on a summer day. The word tzatziki is of Middle-Eastern origin and has been incorporated into the Greek vocabulary. 

This has nothing to do with the recipe, but if I say the word tzatziki over and over, I am reminded of the chirping that cicadas make in the summer, and cicada singing is a lovely sound to listen to on a hot summer day ... Exceptionally calming!


Here's my tzatziki recipe:




Ingredients:
  • 2 cups Greek yoghurt
  • 1 English cucumber
  • 1 cloves garlic 
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • juice of half a lemon
  • 2 or 3 mint leaves, chopped (don't use too much mint)
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh dill
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil, and a bit more to drizzle on top for garnish

Directions:
  1. Place the yoghurt in a medium-sized bowl.
  2. Peel the cucumber and cut it into quarters lengthwise. Remove any large seeds and discard them. Chop the cucumber into small dice. Let rest for a few minutes in a colander so that any excess liquid drains. You can help this process along by using a paper towel to press down on the cucumber: dry it in paper towels and then incorporate it into the yoghurt.
  3. Peel the garlic and chop it very extra finely. Add it to the yoghurt.
  4. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix well. You have now created tzatziki!
  5. Pour the tzatziki into a nice serving bowl and drizzle some olive oil on top for garnish.
  6. You can also garnish with some dill or mint or little pieces of cucumber... whatever tickles your fancy. A radish garnish is nice. Olives tend to discolour the yoghurt, therefore, refrain from using them. 
  7. Here are some tips for making tzatziki
Always use Greek yoghurt, which is essentially strained yoghurt. Straining removes some of the water content and the whey, and gives yoghurt a thicker consistency. (Traditionally yoghurt was hung for a few hours inside a cloth bag made of muslin, and that got rid of the extra liquid). 

If you want a thick yoghurt, and also, if you want to have the full, rich taste of tzatziki, don't use low-fat yoghurt. 

As you may have noticed, this recipe calls for just one clove of garlic because the longer tzatziki hangs around, the more intense its garlic flavour tends to become. It's best not to use a large amount of garlic in this recipe because garlic does have a loud voice.

Tzatziki can be stored in the refrigerator for about two days.