What is Tzatziki?
Probably my very first Greek word I learned, without having visited Greece yet, was “Tzatziki” . It is a fun word to say, and to my ears, it really sounded like holiday. But what is Tzatziki?
It is a Greek condiment/dip, made of thick Greek yogurt, grated cucumber, garlic, lemon or vinegar, some olive oil, and eventually fresh herbs like dill or mint or thyme.
While the recipe can vary from region to region in Greece, it is served as a side dish for many meals, fish or meat or vegetables.
Street foods like “souvlaki-gyros”, are nearly always garnished with tzatziki. When you ask for a Chicken souvlaki, they recently tend to add another “sauce”, but I always ask the tzatziki instead.
To my personal taste, you can basically eat it with nearly everything, and I absolutely love it! Obviously, if you are planning a Greek feast, tzatziki can not be missed from the table!
Just put it out in a bowl and let everyone combine it on whatever you are serving, or just serve the tzatziki in combination with bread or small “pitta-breads”!
How to prepare tzatziki – recipe
The good thing about tzatziki is that it is extremely easy to make, and healthy as well. As long you do mind eating garlic, and smelling for the rest of the day, it is a great option.
Note: If you have an important business meeting the next day, you can still make tzatziki without garlic, which is actually also very tasty!
‘Some decades ago, when I was not living in Greece yet, it was often a problem to find a substitute for the Greek yogurt, but nowadays, when thick Greek yogurt is so easy to find and available in most supermarkets out of Greece as well, it is one of the easiest things or dips to make.
Myself, I always use full-fat Greek yogurt, since it is the primary ingredient. Remember that fat carries flavor, so using fat-free yogurt diminishes the perfect taste, but might be a better option if you are on diet 😉
Note: If I have time, it is a good idea to grade the cucumbers about 15 minutes ahead of time, salt it lightly, and then let it rest in a colander over the sink. That way, the excess water drains away, and after that, you can squeeze it a bit before stirring it into the tzatziki.
It might be not so important if you plan to eat the tzatziki right away, but if you plan to make it ahead, or want to make a large portion for some days, it is a good way to prevent it from getting watered down as it sits.
Ingredients: (greek text below)
- ½ kilo yogurt strained/ bag
- 3-4 big garlic cloves
- Salt & pepper
- 1 big spoon of vinegar
- 1 big cucumber
- ¾ cup olive oil
- Clean the garlic cloves, cut the cloves lengthwise and remove the green part/ seeds from the center.
- Crush the garlic cloves and put them in a mortar.
- Add the salt and crush the mixture until smooth.
- Grate the cucumber and let it strain to take the water out.
- Put Greek yogurt (with 5-10% fat for nicer taste!) and cucumber in a little bowl and mix well.
- Add all other ingredients and mix well
Just in case you prefer to read the recipe in Greek, and learn some Greek vocabulary
- 1/2 κιλό γιαούρτι στραγγιστό
- 3-4 μεγάλες σκελίδες σκόρδο
- Αλάτι, πιπέρι
- 1 κουταλιά σούπας ξίδι
- 1 μεγάλο αγγούρι
- 3/4 φλιτζανιού ελαιόλαδο
- Καθαρίζουμε το σκόρδο, κόβουμε τις σκελίδες κατά μήκος και αφαιρούμε την πράσινη φύτρα τους που βρίσκεται στο κέντρο.
- Λιώνουμε το σκόρδο με το ειδικό εργαλείο πολτοποίησης και βάζουμε το λιωμένο σκόρδο σε γουδί.
- Προσθέτουμε το αλάτι και λιώνουμε με το γουδοχέρι το μείγμα έως ότου γίνει ομοιογενές.
- Περνάμε στον τρίφτη το αγγούρι και αν παραμείνει ακόμα υγρό το αγγούρι το στραγγίζουμε.
- Σε μία λεκάνη βάζουμε το γιαούρτι και το αγγούρι και ανακατεύουμε με ένα κουτάλι.
- Προσθέτουμε και τα υπόλοιπα υλικά και ανακατεύουμε.