Tzatziki dip is a popular condiment with variations found in Greece and neighboring countries. The flavors in tzatziki come from herbs, yogurt, garlic, and cucumber. Coming from a Turkish word often defined as “an herb salad with yogurt” tzatziki is served with meat, pita bread, and vegetables.
The sauce originated in the cuisine of the Ottoman Empire and can be used to trace the exchange of ideas along the Ottoman trade routes. Some scholars speculate that tzatziki was originally a variation of an Indian dish, raita, which spread to the Middle East and the Ottomans via the elite Persian Muslim ruling class.
Eventually, tzatziki became popular across the Mediterranean thanks to Ottoman influence. It became most prevalent in Greece, where it has gained eventual recognition throughout the world.
In Cyprus, the most common variant of tzatziki is called talatouri. Unlike the spread served in other parts of Greece, talatouri contains mint and contains less garlic.
It is recommended that you chill your tzatziki for at least an hour before serving-it is best enjoyed cold!
- 16 oz (2 cups) thick Greek yogurt
- 2 large or 5 small cucumbers
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic
- 1 tablespoon white vinegar
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1-2 tablespoons of finely chopped fresh dill and/or fresh mint (Optional)
Put yogurt in a cheesecloth-lined sieve over a bowl. Drain for several hours or overnight in the refrigerator.
Peel, seed, and coarsely grate cucumbers. Drain well.
Add garlic, vinegar, olive oil, salt, and pepper to cucumbers and mix well. Add drained yogurt and blend.
(Food processor method)
Grate peeled and seeded cucumber and set aside to drain. Add garlic, vinegar, olive oil, salt, and pepper. Pulse with a quick on-off. Place in a bowl and combine with cucumber and yogurt.
Add mint or dill: Slight variations include 1-2 tablespoons of finely chopped fresh dill and/or fresh mint.
Makes about 2 cups.