This is my families tzatziki recipe, a simple recipe that relies on good quality ingredients including an excellent strained Greek yoghurt.
This is one of those recipes that we make intuitively in our family, we start with the strained yoghurt and add the ingredients, then taste and adjust until we are happy with the result.
We use Tzatziki as an accompaniment for barbecued meat such as souvlaki, as a dipping sauce for vegetable crudités and of course warm pita bread.
Tzatziki Variations around the world…
As well as Greece you will find Tzatziki like recipes in Middle Eastern Countries, Southern Balkans and India.
In Turkey – Cacik
It is made of salted strained yogurt or diluted yogurt mixed with cucumbers, garlic, salt, olive oil, sometimes with vinegar or lemon juice, and herbs such as dill, mint, parsley and thyme.
The difference is in the yoghurt, traditionally, Greek tzatziki uses sheep or goat yoghurt and is usually quite thick. While in Turkey, it is often made with yoghurt made from cows milk.
In the Balkans – Tarator
It is a cold cucumber soup usually made with yoghurt, oil, water and garlic. It is basically a runnier version of Tzatziki. The Bulgarian version includes walnuts popular in the summer.
Dry Tarator is a thicker variation where the yoghurt is hung in cheesecloth to strain all its water (this takes several hours). Then cucumbers, garlic, minced walnuts, salt and oil are added.
In Albania, tarator it is usually served cold and is normally made from yoghurt, garlic, parsley, cucumber, salt and olive oil. The difference is that parsley is used instead of dill.
Middle Eastern Tarator is a simple combination of tahini (sesame paste), lemon juice, garlic and parsley. The difference here is that the yoghurt is replaced with tahini and parsley is used instead of dill.
In Cyprus – Talatouri
Just like Tzatziki, it is more of a dipping sauce, made from strained yogurt, sliced cucumbers, minced garlic cloves and either fresh or dried mint. The difference is the use of mint instead of the dill in Greek Tzatziki.
In Iraq – Jajik or Jajeek
A traditional Armenian recipe that’s often made with strained yoghurt, cucumbers, dried mint and a couple of ice cubes (to keep the jajik cold). The difference is the dried mint instead of the and the ice cubes.
In Azerbaijani – Ovdukh
Is cold yoghurt and herb soup, traditionally containing, cucumber, herbs and garlic. It can also contain minced meat and hard-boiled eggs but is most popular in its vegetarian form. It is best made with thicker style yoghurts such as Greek, Russian, Turkish or Iranian.
The difference is that there is a mix of herbs used such as coriander (cilantro), dill, basil and mint.
Ovdukh another Azerbaijani soup is similar to Dovga the difference is that in Dovga the yoghurt is heated.
In India – Raita
A yoghurt style dip made with dahi, cucumber, cumin, coriander (cilantro) and or mint. Other variations may include mango, tomato, or red onion in addition to or instead of the cucumbers.
The difference is that raita has a base of dahi (a thinner salted yoghurt) while tzatziki has a base of thicker, strained Greek yoghurt. There is more vinegar in tzatziki making it a lot tangier than raita.
In Iran – Ash-e doogh
A Persian based yoghurt soup that is made without cucumbers but made with a variety of herbs (like basil, leek, mint, tarragon and parsley); vegetables (like spinach, purslane, chickpeas, peas, onions and garlic) it may also have lamb meatballs, eggs, rice and a variety of spices. The soup can be topped off with some fried mint, dried bread chips, chopped nuts, garlic and lots of oil.
- 2 cups Greek yoghurt
- 1 Lebanese cucumber
- 1-2 garlic cloves (minced)
- 2 tbsps dill, fresh (chopped)
- 2 tbsps red wine vinegar
- 3 tbsps olive oil
- Sea salt
- A sprig of mint or dill to garnish.
- Place your Greek yoghurt in a strainer lined with cheesecloth and a bowl underneath to catch the juices. Leave covered in your refrigerator overnight, this will reduce your yoghurt by half.
- If you would like to make your tzatziki immediately use just one cup of Greek yoghurt. Allow it to strain in the fridge while you are preparing the remainder of your ingredients.
- Rinse your Lebanese cucumber under cold running water, trim the ends then coarsely grate. Place in a strainer and press out all the excess water and pat dry with a paper towel.
- Put the strained Greek yoghurt, the strained cucumber, chopped dill, minced garlic, oil and vinegar in a medium bowl. Season the with some salt and mix well until combined.
- Taste and adjust seasonings according to your taste.
- Place in a small bowl, garnish with a sprig of mint or dill and serve.
Some more of our traditional Greek recipes…
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