Sunday, June 10, 2007

summer flavours

with summer almost upon us, the days have warmed up considerably and certainly gotten longer in terms of the number of hours of sunlight we are getting. warmer temperatures also mean eating fare which is both quick and easy to prepare and considerably lighter than that of winter days gone by.

salads and appetizer-type dishes are one of my favourites for this time of year. i enjoy eating dishes that are cold or room temperature to counteract the heat and humidity of my area. of course, i won't pass up a barbeque either.

one appetizer dish i especially like is the greek tzadziki sauce — a cool and creamy mixture of cucumbers, garlic and rich yogurt. making it is a breeze and the flavours seem to improve over the next day or two. i have found over many trials of different versions over the years that the best way to make this is to use seedless [english] cucumbers, a very thick mediterranean yogurt if available, and garlic which has been worked to a paste, enabling you to use less and still get a very strong garlic flavour.

if you cannot get the mediterranean style thick yogurt (8.5% MF), then the next best option is to use a full fat one and drain it for a few hours until it is thick and use as is, or add sour cream. i like the addition of sour cream as it adds a lot to the finished tzadziki.

garlic-laced cucumber & yogurt appetizer


1 1/2 - 1 3/4 c mediterranean style (very thick) yogurt or,
2 1/4 c regular yogurt, drained & 1/3 - 1/2 c sour cream added later
1 large cucumber, peeled and finely grated* (all hard seeds removed)
1 large clove garlic or 2 small ones, worked to a paste with some salt

salt and sugar to taste

final (optional) seasonings:
1 -2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil,
1 tbsp lemon juice (or vinegar) and 1/8 tsp black pepper


before starting: if not using the mediterranean yogurt, drain the regular yogurt for about about 3 to 4 hours until it has reduced considerably and is very thick. once drained place in a bowl and add the sour cream and refrigerate or leave it as is. the cucumbers will add moisture and loosen it up if you aren't adding any. (it really is better with!)

peel cucumbers and seed them if necessary. the small gelatinous ones are fine to keep. *some versions include unpeeled cucumbers or coarsely grated ones. you'll have to decide how you prefer it — mine is for finely grated and peeled.

grate the cucumbers finely into a bowl. add 1/2 tsp salt and mix it together. place the mixture in a fine sieve and let it drain for about 1/2 hour.

notice that a ton of cucumber juice will be released. discard it.

in the meantime, make a paste of the garlic with a little bit of salt to help break it down. this is best done in with a mortar and pestle.

once the cucumber has drained, rinse it under cold water to get rid of the salt and press it with a spoon to get as much water out as possible.

in a bowl, place the garlic and cucumber and mix together. add the yogurt and mix well.

add salt to taste and a bit of sugar. finally, season with some extra virgin olive oil, lemon juice or vinegar and pepper. this is optional as not all versions contain it.

refrigerate it for at least 2 to 3 hours but overnight is best.

serve with warm pita and enjoy!


Anonymous said...

Well... traditional tzatziki (I am Greek)also has a pinch of vinegar and of course olive oil and fresh pepper.

Lakshmi said...

Hi BB, I got to know about your blog from Trupti's. I really liked your yoghurt receipe and couple of other pasta recipe's too. Will make your style yoghurt very soon for my chapathi.

burekaboy — said...

hi lydia - thank you for your comment; much appreciated. i have actually amended my post to include it, however as optional. obviously, you are 100% right, the original 'Χωριάτικοσ' one does contain these [which i also add but will omit depending upon who i am feeding]. as a sidenote, several greek restaurants here, where i live, serve it straight as cucumber, yogurt, sour cream, garlic and salt/sugar. there are also many versions, as i'm sure you know, for this popular dish -- the main difference being the standard original type as you mention and such as the one i posted. example 1, example 2. i imagine without olive oil is a "lower fat" version & omitting the acid (vinegar/lemon juice) depends on the acidity of the original yogurt. in any event, it's a wonderful and well loved appetizer. again, thanks for your comment and pointing that out.

taste of mysore - hi and thanks for dropping by. i'm sure you will like this. it is almost like a raita and would be great with chappati. let me know what you think :)

Anonymous said...

I am glad to see a recipe as I made up my own after asking a local Greek restaurant how to make it.

I make yogurt cheese by straining the yogurt through a coffee filter set into a sieve overnight.

I never thought to add sour cream. The garlic paste sounds like a great idea! I started using seedless cucumbers, too. Thanks for sharing - I can't wait to try your recipe as mine isn't as good as I'd like.

burekaboy — said...

hi miss sassy - welcome and thanks for the comment. this is pretty much the standard one for tzadziki. you can strain the yogurt in a coffee filter or in a piece of cotton/muslin and let it drip overnight, both work. adding the sour cream really makes a big difference (i find). also the garlic paste is much more powerful than minced garlic so only add one large clove of it unless you like it stronger. just make sure to make it into a paste so it is no longer stringy - using coarse salt helps a lot. hope you enjoy it and it is similar to what you're looking for. let me know how your experiment works out, if you get the chance :)

burekaboy — said...

miss sassy - just wanted to add that you probably don't have to drain the yogurt all night for this, just several hours (4 or 5) until it is considerably thicker. here is a recipe for it if you want to get daring and try to make some "greek style" yogurt on your own. again, draining it a bit results in the thicker mediterranean type. only use full fat milk also.

Lakshmi said...

Hi BB, Tried this recipe yesterday for our dinner. My hubby just loved it. Thanks for the wonderfull receipe. Btw, dill leaves are used in a wide variety of dishes in India. It is a very common leavy vegetable in our household.

burekaboy — said...

hi lakshmi - thanks for the feedback (and blog mention); i'm happy to hear you and your husband really liked it. it's one of my favourites. as for the dill, it's on this week's shopping list :D thanks for the info.