Tzatziki is one of those condiments based on Yoghurt that are popular all the way from Eastern Europe, through the Middle East and Central Asia, to all across India.
The condiment by this name is the Greek take on the basic theme, and it has a counterpart in the Turkish Cacik , as well as the Iranian ‘Mast-o-khiar’. There is an Afghan sauce for grilled meat which is very similar, and India has the popular Cucumber Raita used as a ‘cool-down’ accompaniment to spicy-hot dishes.
All are easy to prepare….
The Basic Method
A basic Tzatziki generally consists of Yoghurt, chopped or grated cucumber, garlic and olive oil, but parsley, mint, dill, lemon juice are often added as well.
The method for making Tzatziki is no more difficult than mixing all ingredients together in a bowl.
Afterwards, chill for at least two hours before serving to allow the flavors to develop and then garnish with olives, lemon slices, a sprinkle of Paprika, or whatever turns your fancy. In my presentation in the first picture, a sprig of mint is used.
Tzatziki is always served cold. Outside of Greece, it is mostly known as a dip for Pita bread or crudités, but it is much more versatile than that.
One of the more common uses for Tzatziki is as an accompaniment to grilled meats. Here, I have added just a little on top of some spicy Grilled Kofta to add a little tang, and to offset the chili heat.
Tzatziki is terrific on burgers or other sandwiches, and it has long been used in Greece as a sauce for the famous fast-food Gyro.
In my own kitchen, I sometimes make the Canadian version of the Gyro known as a ‘Halifax Donair’. This is made with spiced ground beef rather than lamb or pork, and the sweet sauce slathered all over it is definitely not made with Yogurt. I have, however, used Tzatziki for a Halifax Donair and made it more like the usual Donair sauce by adding a generous helping of sugar. This is hardly orthodox, and may make the purists howl, but, boy, is it good!
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A Basic Tzatziki Recipe
- ¾ cup thick Greek-style Yoghurt;
- ½ cup very finely diced Cucumber;
- ½ tbsp. pureed Garlic;
- 1 tbsp. chopped fresh Dill;
- 1 tbsp. chopped fresh Mint optional;
- ½ tsp Salt;
- 1 tbsp. Olive Oil;
- ½ – 2 tbsp. tbsp. Lemon Juice See Notes below
- Mix all the above ingredients together in a bowl.
- Chill in the refrigerator for at least two hours.
- When ready to serve, give the mixture a final stir, drizzle with just a little extra olive oil if desires, and garnish with olives, lemon slices, or whatever else suits your taste.