Why a recipe for tzatziki, you may ask ? Everyone knows how to make that….. Or so they think! I may be considered to be a bit obsessive about authenticity in cooking but I am of the opinion that if you are going to do something, do it properly!
There is nothing easier to prepare than a really good tzatziki – the ultimate accompaniment for many classic Greek dishes. Who could possibly contemplate a plate of keftedákia, or any grilled meat for that matter, without a cool,creamy, garlic-infused bowl of tzatziki to hand. However, it never ceases to amaze me how people confuse the miserable, watery concoction served up outside Greece, with the authentic version of the ‘Dip of Dips’.
The main ingredients couldn’t be simpler – cucumber, garlic and of course Greek yoghurt. Although the ingredients are so simple, it is crucial to stick to some very important details.It is essential to peel the cucumber and also, once grated, to get as much water out of it as possible – otherwise all that liquid will leech into the tzatziki. The other absolutely crucial thing is to use proper Greek yoghurt – ordinary yoghurt is just too runny.
Now people often wonder why yoghurt in Greece is so thick and creamy, when compared to other versions. The reason is simple and the clue is on the tub; Greek yoghurt is ‘strained yoghurt’.Years ago (and I’m talking about the ’80s) before the wonderful ‘Total’ yoghurt was available in Britain, my preparations for a bowl of tzatziki started at least a day prior to consumption.A couple of large tubs of plain yoghurt, a sieve and a piece of clean muslin were needed for the first step in the process! The straining process would take about 12 hours but the result was perfect and then I could finish making tzatziki. Fortunately, this step can be ignored now !
1 250gm tub ‘Total’ Greek Yoghurt (or similar )
1-2 cloves garlic – crushed
1 tab. Olive oil
A little salt
First of all, peel the cucumber. Generally in Greek cooking, cucumbers are not served with the skin. It is considered to be bitter and difficult to digest.
Next with a coarse grater, grate the cucumber into a colander. Sprinkle with a little salt and leave to one side for about 30 minutes.
Put the yoghurt into a medium sized mixing bowl, beat in the olive oil and then the crushed garlic.
Now take the cucumber and either with your hands or in a clean tea towel, squeeze out as much water as you can. Now stir the squeezed,grated cucumber into the yoghurt.
Put into a serving bowl and serve.