It started with dill. Since god willing, my puny herb garden thrives despite my brown thumb; I wanted to plant dill. And, of course, use it in a recipe – Tzatziki.
The recipe was unquestionably decided. What I couldn’t find was dill, and trust me, I looked up and down, left, right, and center. Apparently, this is not the season for dill here!
But the recipe was already decided! So, I did what I usually do – tweaked it and made it without dill.
Fair warning to all the purists, my version of tzatziki may not be absolutely authentic, but it tastes just as good.
The thick, creamy yogurt hinting a tiny tang of sunny lemon mixed with crisp cucumbers and cooling mint, made the tzatziki refreshing and heavenly. The olive oil gave the luscious dip an even more voluptuous flair.
The perfect condiment for just about everything you can imagine. At least for me. Officially, it is a meze – a simple, creamy and refreshing Greek appetizer.
It is served chilled and is often used as a spread, dip, sauce or side-dish.
How to Make Tzatziki?
Making tzatziki is intuitive and ridiculously easy. You mix cucumbers, garlic, olive oil, yogurt, dill, and lemon juice, season them, and you’re done.
That’s the authentic version. I just replaced dill with mint from my kitchen garden.
Because the preparation is a no-brainer, the recipe doesn’t matter as such. What does make a great Tzatziki is solid ingredients and a few tricks.
Begin by grating the cucumber and removing their water. You can squeeze them between your palms or a kitchen towel.
This step is crucial because cucumbers are full of water, and any excess water is tzatziki’s enemy. The dip has to be thick. Not watery or runny.
Traditionally, tzatziki’s base is Greek yogurt. That’s what makes the dip so creamy and dense. Regular yogurt is an excellent backup as long as you drain it. If you have full-fat yogurt, even better.
I made it with the regular, homemade yogurt and to achieve that beautiful creamy consistency of tzatziki, I hung it.
Take a fine-mesh strainer and spread a cloth on it, preferably muslin. Place the sieve with the kitchen towel over a large bowl. Spoon the yogurt on it. Close the edges of the cloth and leave the entire shebang for the water to drain down on the bowl.
You don’t want the yogurt to be as dense as in labneh, so it’ll be ready in an hour or two.
To this thick yogurt, add olive oil. Throw in fresh, finely chopped mint, grated cucumbers, a dash of lemon juice, and salt to taste.
Stir it thoroughly, dip a tasting finger (the temptation is incredibly hard to resist), check for taste, and then slide it in the fridge for an hour.
Variations of tzatziki recipe
Dill is the common herb for tzatziki, but you can certainly substitute it with any fresh herb.
I used mint because my plants were turning into a jungle. But parsley is another great option.
If you want to make vegan tzatziki, use a plant-based yogurt.
Always serve tzatziki completely chilled, because that’s when the flavors blend in nicely. Garnish it with a few leaves of the fresh herb of your choice, drizzle some olive and serve it as:
- a dip with crackers, crudité platter, or grilled veggies.
- a spread for lamb skewers, tofu, paneer, or even chicken.
- a sauce for kebabs, sandwiches, or even burgers for that matter.
It is delicious as a side with watermelon feta salad or Greek salad, served with a hunk bread. Slather it on toast, and you have a healthy topping! You can even make a medley meal out of tzatziki, pita ( recipe coming up!), cherry tomatoes, and anything else you love.
In short, tzatziki enlivens anything it graces!
It really is a lovely way to make a feast that flies off the table without breaking into a sweat. You don’t have to toil over a hot stove with this Greek dish.
Better yet, keep a bowl of it in your fridge. The mild, fresh, tangy kick of tzatziki pairs with such a potpourri of foods, that you’ll never regret having it handy!
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- 3/4 cup Grated cucumber
- 1.5 cup Greek yogurt You can use homemade yogurt too. Just make sure you drain the excess water.
- 2 tsp Lemon juice
- 1 tbsp Extra virgin Olive oil
- 2 cloves Garlic, finely minced
- 1 tbsp Mint, finely chopped Dill is the herb used traditionally. Please use that if its available.
- Salt to taste
- Place the grated cucumber in a kitchen towel and squeeze out all the excess water.
- In a bowl, combine the yogurt, lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, salt. Whisk well.
- Stir in the cucumber and mint. Taste and adjust for seasoning.
- Chill for at least an hour before serving.
- Drizzle with some olive oil and serve. Enjoy!