Tzatziki: An Authentic Greek/Turkish/Arabic/Indian Dish?
History: The culinary use of cucumber dates back to 3000 years ago in the foothills of the Himalayas, modern day India. It spread from there to Egypt as a result of trade and from Egypt to both Greek and Roman cultures where it became highly favored. The combination of yogurt and cucumber is common in cuisines from the Mediterranean (tzatziki), across the Middle East (mastokhiar and cacik), to India (raita and pachadi). “Tzatziki” is actually a Greek rendering of the Turkish word “cacik” (pronounced something like “JAH-jik”) which is means cucumber.
Why It’s Awesome: I grew up on this dish. It’s a great side dish to grilled meats. It can also be used as a dip with fresh, crunchy vegetables. My favorite way of eating tzatziki is on grilled pita bread.
This recipe has so many variants that it would be unwise for me to claim that this is the best one. Most Greeks use yogurt but our family prefers the richness of sour cream (maybe it’s our Russian background that comes out). I suggest you experiment with a variation of ingredients to figure out which you prefer better.
Ingredients & Portions:
- 500 grams of sour cream (can be replaced by yogurt)
- 1/2 unpeeled English cucumber grated
- 2-3 minced garlic cloves (Add or reduce depending on how much garlic you like)
- 1 finely chopped basil leaf (optional)
- 1 finely chopped mint leaf (optional)
Servings: This recipe makes a medium sized bowl of tzatziki.
Cooking Time & Directions:
1. Grate the cucumber and strain all the juice from it.
2. Strain the sour cream. Add the cucumber, garlic and herbs.
Remember that the more you strain the cucumber and the sour cream, the less liquid it will be. Therefore, if you life thick dipping sauces, try to drain as much juice out of everything. If not, strain for a limited time only.
Refrigerate. It is best served the day after when the garlic’s taste is strong.
Nutritional Benefits: Cucumbers are great for radiant complexions. They are a great source of fiber as well as vitamin C, silica, potassium and magnesium. Studies show that cucumbers also help to reduce high blood pressure. Sour cream on the other hand is not very healthy for you. It contains from 15-20% fat and is made primarily made of cream. For those who are watching their waistline, you can use light sour creams or low fat yogurts.