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gyro white sauce [moved from Manhattan board]

Does anyone know what the white sauce is that is served on Halal stand gyros? I had always assumed that it was plain yogurt, but the other day I saw one of the stand owners shoveling mayonnaise into a squeeze bottle, and it made me think that my assumption was wrong. Yuck!

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  1. The sauce at my favorite gyro stand (alas, no longer in business) was made from yogurt, vinegar, dill, cucumber, and a touch of honey. They shared the recipe with me (or more accurately, the ingredients...they never really measured anything) and they let me watch them make it the week before they closed up shop.
    It is very tasty stuff.

      1. re: kathryn

        Yeah the sauce is part mayonaise and yogurt. Relax, you like how it tastes

        1. re: kathryn

          Thanks for the link, I don't read serious eats often enough. That looks like a fantastic recipe!

          1. re: alkonost

            It's very good. I just made it and the chicken and rice too.

        2. This is something I try very hard not to think about.

          1 Reply
          1. re: Sneakeater

            I think, moving forward, that yours is the wisest plan.

            1. That's why I always say light on the white sauce. Otherwise you end up with 1/2 cup.

              1. I bet it is Tzatziki - some recipes use a bit of mayo in it. Makes it not quite so tart. I have never understood some peoples' almost religious hatred of mayo.

                1 Reply
                1. re: libstewart

                  Best I've had is (other than at a random stand) from Fairway. Healthier version at Trader Joe's.

                2. The traditional sauce for gyros is tzatziki (Greek name), or cacik (pronounced jajik) in Turkey. I've lived in both countries and the recipe is the same. This is a traditional recipe.

                  First, pick up a large container of plain yogurt, full fat, low fat, or fat free. They all work. Line a collander with plain white paper towels, dump the yogurt into the middle, top with a paper towel. Set the collander over a bowl to catch the whey and set it in the refrigerator to drain. The longer it drains, the thicker it will be. If you let it go long enough, you'll have yogurt-tart cream cheese!

                  Peel a cucumber, cut it in half, stem to blossom end. Scoop out the seeds with a teaspoon and discard. Grate cucumber, place it in a paper towel and squeeze out as much moisture as possible. Place drained yogurt in a bowl, add the cucumber and two or three cloves of chopped/mashed garlic. I simply use a garlic press. Add a scant teaspoon of salt and 2 tablespoons of good olive oil. Stir to blend and refrigerate for a couple of hours while the flavors merge. That's it! No mayonnaise, and for pity's sake, do NOT use sour cream! A local Greek restaurant does, and it's a travesty! Tzatziki will keep in the fridge for four days or so, but mine is always gone a lot quicker than that!

                  Oh, and fresh garlic has a nice bite. Garlic powder does not. I prefer the fresh. It's not unheard of to add a bit of dill weed or even spearmint. Or both. Fresh dill is better than dried. But the basic recipe is pretty close to universal in both Greece and Turkey. It's delicious!

                  4 Replies
                  1. re: Caroline1

                    This isn't tzatziki sauce, its "white sauce" and is specific to the NY Halal carts. It contains mayonnaise.

                    1. re: MVNYC

                      Mayonnaise, yogurt, vinegar, herbs, s&p, sugar.

                    2. re: Caroline1

                      Caroline - do you peel the cukes?

                      BTW, I miss seeing your smiling face.

                      1. re: Sharuf

                        Yup! Peel the cucumbers!

                        I've switched to the shopping cart to see if I draw less fire from certain types of male participants... hmmm... Hasn't worked particularly well so far... Maybe with time....? '-)

                    3. Some use tzatziki, some do not. Not all white sauces have cucumber or garlic in them. A tzatziki has both...

                      1. I love the fish tacos in San Diego and was shocked to find out that the main ingredients are mayo and sour cream/yogurt in equal portions. For gyros, I make the sauce all yogurt for the white part, with cucumber and various seasonings for flavor, but if I found that mayo worked there I wouldn't be against it.

                        1. The one they serve here in Ontario is great but when I found out how to make it I went"ewwwwwww". I tried it and it works! Evaporatedmilk, vinegar and sugar in a jar. Shake until thick.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: dianne0712

                            Dianne,what you have just described is classic Haligonian Donair sauce,a la King of Donairs,Quinpool branch.Will you next be giving us the recipes for Newfie Flipper Pie or the gravy at Smoke's Poutinerie? Just sayin',eh.