I’ve got a huge love for cucumbers. They’re juicy, crunchy, and good enough to eat like that on a normal day. So, just imagine when you have it as a dip mixed with garlic, yogurt and olive oil. Yeah…can you taste it? Lol.
Tzatziki or cacık is a sauce served with grilled meats or as a meze (dip). Tzatziki is made of salted strained yogurt or diluted yogurt mixed with garlic, salt, olive oil, and cucumbers. Sometimes it is mixed with vinegar or lemon juice and some herbs like parsley, dill, thyme, mint…or any of your choice.
But know that Tzatziki is always served cold. But, there’s more. Known as cacık in North Cyprus and Turkey, tzatziki is a staple in Turkish and Greek cuisine that is used to accompany warm bread, salads and other mezes.
Tzatziki requires no cooking or equipment and a handful of ingredients but if you want it perfect, it calls for time.
OK. This is very important- you must always draining the liquid from the grated cucumber to stop the yogurt becoming thin and diluted. If you leave the liquid in the cucumber then the flavor and texture will be affected. Also, it’s better you use thick and strained yogurt if you prefer an authentic texture but if you want to achieve a sauce, then use runny Greek yogurt.
To make Tzatziki, you need;
- ½ a large cucumber
- 2 cloves of garlic
- 2 tablespoons quality extra virgin olive oil
- 1 x 500g tub of strained Greek yoghurt
- 1 small bunch of fresh dill
- a few sprigs of fresh mint
- 1 lemon
- optional: 1 teaspoon dried mint
(these ingredients serve 4-6).
To prepare tzatziki;
1. Slice the cucumber in half length-ways and cut or scrape out the seeds – this is where most of the water content is. Grate the remaining cucumber.
2. Place the grated cucumber in a sieve, rest it on a bowl and add some sea salt. Give it a stir, and leave to drain for a few hours, or overnight in the fridge. Stir now and again, helping it along by pushing the liquid out with a spoon.
3. In the meantime, peel and finely grate or crush the garlic, then combine with the oil in a large bowl. You can allow this to sit for a few hours to mellow out the pungency, but it’s not essential.
4. When most of the liquid has drained from the grated cucumber, spread it out over a tea towel and pat dry. Combine with the garlic mixture, then stir through the yoghurt until evenly distributed.
5. Finely chop the dill and mint leaves, then fold through the yoghurt mixture along with a squeeze of lemon juice and the dried mint (if using). Season with salt to taste.
6. Serve with warm pita or Turkish bread and crudités, or alongside salad and grilled meats.
If you want to get creative, feel free to pep up your tzatziki with paprika or sumac, or and a punch with slices of fresh chilli. Dress with a flourish of the chopped herbs and a drizzle of olive oil.