International Recipes and Cooking Around the World

Tzatziki

Tzatziki Greek cucumber and yogurt sauce

(Greek cucumber-yogurt sauce)

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Called tzatziki in Greece, the cooling combination of yogurt and cucumber is popular all around the eastern Mediterranean. The Turkish version is called cacik. In Iran it is known as mast-o-khiyar. Bulgarians call it tarator. For Iraqis, it is jajeek.

Ttzatziki goes great with with gyros sandwiches or keftedes meatballs.

Makes about 2 1/2 cups

Ingredients

  • Cucumber, peeled, seeded and, grated -- 1
  • Salt -- 1 teaspoon
  • Thick, Greek-style yogurt -- 2 cups
  • Lemon, juice only -- 1/2
  • Garlic, minced -- 1 or 2 cloves
  • Olive oil -- 1/4 cup

Method

  1. In a large bowl, toss the cucumber with the salt and set aside for 5 to 10 minutes. Squeeze the cucumber to get rid of excess moisture.
  2. Add the remaining ingredients to the bowl with the cucumber and stir together until well blended.
  3. Adjust seasoning and serve well chilled as an appetizer with bread or pita, or as a sauce for souvlaki, gyros or other roasted meats.

Tzatziki Variations

  • Cacik/Jajeek (Turkish/Iraqi yogurt-cucumber salad): Use two cucumbers and add some chopped mint and dill. If you thin it out with a little ice water, cacik can be served as a cold summer soup.
  • Mast-o Khiyar (Iranian yogurt-cucumber spread): Follow the above recipe. Stir in 1/4 cup walnuts, 1/4 cup golden raisins and some chopped mint. Garnish with fresh rose petals and spread on fresh bread. Sometimes spelled mast-o-khiar.
  • If you can't find thick, Greek-style yogurt, regular yogurt can be made thicker by straining it overnight in a fine-meshed strainer or several layers of cheesecloth.

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