Before I starting dating a Greek back in 2005 there is little chance that I would have touched a bowl of garlicky yoghurt that had been mixed with cucumber. How disgusting does that sound? But after a trip to the Greek Islands I saw the error of my ways – tzatziki is completely delicious.
But not so in the UK. The little pots you pick up in the supermarket purporting to be tzatziki should be enough to put anyone off for life. Horrid runny yoghurt mixed with chunks of cucumber does not a tzatziki make.
So having recently married the formerly mentioned Greek I feel I must fly the flag for Greek cuisine, starting with tzatziki.
Luckily I have lovely in-laws who have bestowed their authentic tzatziki knowledge on me as there are so many competing recipes out there. There are those that call for additions such as lemon juice, mint, dill, and sour cream. Some people cube their cucumber, some grate it. To peel or not to peel? This is mostly a question of taste so please feel free to adapt the recipe below as you wish on those fronts.
But the one thing you cannot, and I mean cannot, compromise on is the yoghurt. Many recipes call for “yoghurt” with no specifics. Disaster! The yoghurt will make or break your dip. The only option is full fat Greek yoghurt. None of this “Greek-style”, natural, or half fat rubbish. Using that will produce runny, lack-lustre results. Being something of a cheap-skate I am normally completely in favour of Greek-style yoghurt (much to my husband’s horror), however in this case, nothing but the authentic version will do. The result will be a creamy, thick, delectable dip.
I have reduced down the garlic levels slightly here, mainly because in Greece most people smell like a garlic clove on a daily basis whilst in the UK this is probably more frowned upon – no one enjoys a knock-out blow of glarlicky commuter breath on the tube in the morning. That said you’ll probably still stink after tucking in so best leave this one for the weekend!
Enough for about 10 as a dip
500g pot Total full fat Greek yoghurt
1 large cucumber, peeled
2 cloves garlic, peeled
1 teaspoon salt
Olive oil, a drizzle
- Cut the cucumber in half length ways and, using a teaspoon, scrape out and discard the watery seeds/middle. Grate the remaining flesh coarsely over a colander/sieve and leave to drain for a few minutes.
- Meanwhile, create a garlic paste by either grinding the garlic and 1 teaspoon salt in a paste in a pestle and mortar, or, finely chopping the garlic then adding the salt and using the back of a knife to smush it up. Alternatively just use a garlic crusher and add the salt to the dip separately.
- Take a handful of the cucumber and squeeze as much water out of it as possible using your hands. Add this to a bowl, repeat with the rest. The more water you can get out the thicker your dip will be.
- Add the yoghurt and garlic paste to the cucumber and mix together well. Season to taste.
- You can either make this a day in advance or eat straight away (it keeps for about 3 days but best eaten the day after). In either case, drizzle with a little olive oil before serving with pittas and crudités. Any left over dip is also delicious in a wrap with chicken/lamb/pork and salad.