That’s Greek to Me!

From Italy to Greece, across the
Ionian Sea is a short distance and there are many similarities in the
cuisines of both countries. Like its Mediterranean cousin, Greek cuisine makes
use of fresh vegetables, meats, herbs and olive oil. Seafood is also an integral
part since the country is made up of several islands, and no part of the
mainland is too far away from the sea. However, Greek cuisine also has considerable
Turkish and Middle Eastern influences and meze
or appetizers are perhaps the most distinct aspect of this influence. Meze can be served hot or cold, sometimes
as accompaniments or dips, sometimes as small meals themselves. Some traditional
meze include tongue-twisters such as Melitzanosalata, Tirokafteri, Gigantes,
Domades, Gavros…

One very popular dip is Tzatziki
and this recipe is based on the one I watched on MasterChef Australia.
Thanks to the Greek-origin chef-judge George Calombaris and his mother who
showed the step-by-step recipe on one of the episodes. It’s quick and simple, needs few ingredients and not too much preparation.

This recipe serves 4-6 people, as
a side dish.

You’ll need:
  • 3 Cucumbers
  • 3 cloves of Garlic
  • 200g strained natural Yogurt
  • Salt and Pepper
  • A pinch of Sugar
  • 2tbsp Olive Oil
  • 1tbsp Lemon Juice or Vinegar
  • A small handful of Mint or Dill

How to:

  • Peel and grate the cucumbers. You can
    also dice them finely if you want a slightly chunky dip. Leave to
    rest for 10 minutes and drain out the excess water.
  • Finely grate the garlic into the
  • Add salt, pepper and sugar.
  • Mix the olive oil with lemon juice
    or vinegar and pour over the cucumber.
  • Add the torn mint or dill leaves.
  • Add the yogurt, mix well and check
    for seasoning.
  • Refrigerate for an hour.

Before serving, pour a dash of
olive oil on top and garnish with a sprig of mint or dill.

You can adjust the quantities of
ingredients depending upon your taste. For example, if you don’t like it too
garlicky, reduce the garlic or increase the quantity of yogurt.

Serve the tzatziki cold, as an accompaniment to grilled meats or crispy fried
aubergine (eggplant) slices. Simply slice aubergines and rub with a mixture of salt,
pepper, red chilli powder and cumin powder. Heat 1tbsp olive oil in a non-stick
frying pan and fry the aubergine slices till they are just crisp. Or you can
serve the tzatziki with a kebab platter or with some pita bread or lavash.


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