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« Anzac biscuits for Anzac Day (just) | Main | Middle Eastern mezze no.4: Tabbouli »
Monday
Apr182011

Middle Eastern mezze no.5: Tzatziki

Yes, I know, tzatziki is Greek, and Greece is not technically Middle Eastern, but the Turkish word cacik (apart from looking like it reads ‘cat sick’) would be likely to return blank stares from most of my English speaking readership.

Tzatziki and cacik share the same core ingredients – yoghurt, cucumber, garlic, olive oil and salt. However, strictly speaking, they are not quite the same. Tzatziki is always of a thick consistency, while cacik is sometimes diluted with water and served as a soup. Tzatziki is usually flavoured with lemon juice, while cacik would use lime. Both can be flavoured with dill or mint, but only tzatziki occasionally contains parsley, while sumac or ground paprika are sometimes used to season cacik.

Here I give a recipe for a basic tzatziki. I tend to go with the less is more approach because I usually serve it with a selection of mezze dishes – tabbouli, hummous, spicy lamb mince, falafel – where the other herbs and spices make separate appearances. Nonetheless, I encourage you to play around with some of the above ingredients to make it your own, particularly if you are serving it as a standalone dip.

As you can see, tzatziki is a very garlicky affair. Traditionally, tzatziki is made with raw garlic, but I find that too spicy, not to mention the breath! This is why I roast six of the cloves and only add a small clove of raw garlic. You can use just raw garlic if you prefer, but if so, you should cut down the amount to one or two cloves.

This recipe makes one generous bowl, enough to serve with flatbread, Turkish bread or crudites as a starter or as part of a main mezze selection. Another popular starter idea is to serve mini-falafels with tzatziki for dipping.

Ingredients

7 cloves garlic
1 small cucumber (approx 150g)
300g Greek yoghurt
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Method

Roast 6 of the garlic cloves in their skins, either by placing on a roasting tray in a hot oven for approximately 10 minutes or by placing under a grill for approximately 5 minutes. Leave to one side to cool.

Grate the cucumber into a tea towel and squeeze out hard to remove any excess moisture. Put in a large mixing bowl.

Finely chop the remaining (small) clove of garlic and add to the cucumber along with the yoghurt, lemon juice and olive oil. Remove the roast garlic from the skins, mash well with a fork and add to the mixing bowl. Stir to combine, season with salt and pepper, and adjust seasoning as necessary.

Garnish with some grated cucumber, or a few slices, and a drizzle of olive oil.

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