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May 16, 2008 01:21 PM


As part of my quest to get rid of all the lamb I mentioned in my last thread here, I decided to slice up some of it on pita and eat with some sliced onion and tzatziki. I went on a search for prepared tzatziki, and ended up going with Summer Fresh from Wegman's (which was quite good, actually).

I was searching because when I used to make tzatziki I could never get either the texture or the flavor quite right. I was straining regular yogurt, chopping cuke and sprinkling it with salt to draw the water out and then straining it. I'd combine the yogurt, the cuke, some chopped dill, some crushed garlic and a dash of olive oil. I can't remember if I put in lemon or not.

Regardless, the final product was always too watery and didn't have that incredible flavor of good tzatziki.

So what's the secret to good tzatziki? How do I make it perfectly and bursting with flavor?

I know I should be using Greek yogurt, which I have now learned I can get at Whole Foods. Is that the only difference?

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  1. I'll share my recipe...

    Mix 1 cup Greek yogurt (Fage, if you can get it) with 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil, and whisk.
    Add one medium glove of garlic, smashed to a pulp in a mortar and pestle, or grated through a very fine microplane. Juice one lemon in, plus salt/pepper, and whisk again.

    Add 1/2 to 3/4 of a cuke, peeled, seeded, and chopped...amount and fineness of chop is your call. I never salted and drained, and have never felt the need to. Then, add a generous amount of chopped mint (again, amount is based on how much "green" you like.

    That's it. I think the lemon and garlic are key to the flavor, and might be what you've been missing. It's simple, and delicious...

    6 Replies
    1. re: ChefBoyAreMe

      Chef: I thought there was much more than 1 garlic in it, the best is in Stamford at Athens pizza, i eat it with my clean fingers at home. it is defintely one of my favourite foods in life. Any other places come to mind around Stamford, I want a new Greek place to open that has more authentic Clean food, Have a yummy clean weekend! What is your favorite food?

      1. re: nbermas

        You can add more...its all to taste. But I find if I get heavy handed on the garlic, it repeats on me...remember, it's being used raw here. So I'd rather undershoot than can always add more, but you can't take i away.

        As far as favorite food, that's a bit like asking "which of your children do you love most..."

        While it's not Greek, it is should try Myrna's on the Post Road in East Stamford, right by the train overpass. I think it might even pass your cleanliness standards. Plus, they are about to open a second place in Greenwich, right next to Barcelona.

        Happy weekend to you too!

      2. re: ChefBoyAreMe

        I also start with Fage yogurt. 2 cups yogurt, one good-sized cuke peeled, seeded and chopped, 2 - 3 cloves garlic minced, a few tbsps good olive oil, a tbsp or two of good red wine vinegar, a few tbsps each of finely chopped mint and dill. Mix it all together, let sit in the fridge for a few hours to allow the flavors to meld, then serve. Thick, rich, and delicious!

        1. re: ChefBoyAreMe

          Weird. Two posts telling me I'm missing the garlic, but I can see it on my screen.

          1. re: JonParker

            Don't pick on me... I don't start reading lessons until next week!

            Truthfully, sorry about that.

            1. re: Caroline1

              You are the last person on CH that I would pick on. And please, don't apologize.

        2. Were you straining full fat yogurt? Full fat greek yogurt? Perhaps that is the key? I have great results using the aforementioned. A Greek friend of mine says that at their restaurant they stir in some sour cream as well for a creamier mouthfeel.

          1. The original comment has been removed
            1. Claudia Roden's recipe for Cacik is simplicity itself. (for 4 - 6)

              Deseed a cucumber (that's my addition to reduce wateriness) and chop. Stir into 500g full-fat yoghurt (preferably Greek or Turkish) with 2 crushed garlic cloves and some fresh mint (or 2 teaspoons dried mint if out-of-season). Don't make it too far in advance.

              1 Reply
              1. re: Harters

                I'm a fan of that too, and was just about to mention it, though I use dill.

                Pic and report

              2. Well, Jon, you don't mention garlic in your home made tzatziki, and if it doesn't bite you, it ain't tzatziki! Here's my way:

                First, I drain the yogurt (full fat, not fat free) in a paper towel lined colander over a bowl over night. I cover the top of the yogurt with another paper towel and put a weight on it. I use one of my rather heavy porcelain chili bowls, but whatever works in your colander, like maybe a salad plate with a can of tomatoes on top of it. Let the yogurt get thick, but not quite to the cream cheese stage. Dump into a mixing bowl.

                Peel at least one, maybe two, cucumbers, cut them in half, scoop out all of the seeds with a teaspoon, then grate the cucumbers. I use my Cuisineart for this step, but I have done it on an old fashioned grater. Put the grated cucumbers in a paper towel and squeeze out all of the moisture you possibly can. Add them to the yogurt.

                A couple of good sized cloves of garlic are next. I use a garlic press If you don't have a garlic press, then you can mince it fine, then add a little bit of salt -- preferably kosher -- and mash it all together with the side of a knife until you have a paste. Add to the yogurt. Salt to taste. A tablespoon or two of good olive oil. Mix well and taste to see if you get enough bite from the garlic. I've known Greeks and Turks (especially Turks in the south of Turkey) who use garlic by the head, not the clove. Too strong for me that way. Anyway, let it mellow for at least an hour or two before serving. The longer the better.

                Chopped fresh mint and/or chopped fresh dill are optional, but not traditional. When using as a sauce with meats in pita bread, I prefer whole fresh mint in the sandwich, along with paper thin slices of red onion.

                If you follow these instruction and still get thin tzatziki, somethings wrong! But it will "weep" after sitting a day or two, but you regain consistency by stirring, not by draining. Good luck!

                4 Replies
                1. re: Caroline1

                  That sounds perfect. I've noticed that the amount of olive oil varies widely between recipes. I used about the same as you do -- a couple of tablespoons, although I didn't really measure.

                  Oh, and garlic is in my original post. I use a garlic press. It's easy and my hands don't smell for a couple of days afterward.

                  1. re: JonParker

                    Okay, here's a trick for you. If you do get garlic (or anything else that stinks) on your hand, simply grab a stainless steel soup spoon and rub your hands with it under cold running water. Voila! Smell is gone! I never worry about getting garlic all over my hands any more. You can also buy an eight or ten dollar stainless steel "bar of soap" that does the same thing. They try to lead people to believe there is some sort of magic in their product, but it's just the chemistry of plain old stainless steel. See? There *IS* magic still left in the world!

                  2. re: Caroline1

                    This is very similar to what I do. Rather than paper towels, though, which I've found sometimes tear on me, I either use cheesecloth or a coffee filter (disposable). You can't overdrain the yogurt. And, mix by hand.

                    1. re: chowser

                      I use Bounty plain white paper towels and they always work perfectly. If I had to wait to make tzatziki until I remembered to buy cheesecloth, I would probably die without ever tasting it again! Quit using cheesecloth many years ago because at that time (maybe things have changed?) you had to rinse and rinse and rinse to get the starchy flavor out of it. With coffee filters, I never found a brand that didn't make my coffee taste like it was in a paper cup. So I bought a gold filter, then replaced that with a superespresso machine, so I'm rid of papery coffee filters and starchy cheesecloth forever! Try the Bounty. They work really great and don't add any flavor of their own.