One of my absolute favorite aspects of food blogging is being able to float down the rabbit hole (a la Disney’s Alice in Wonderland, and not the more macabre connotations of the expression) of food histories. Maybe I get the desire from my mother, an expert etymologist and language expert. Or from my father, the history buff with a memory like a steel trap for facts and figures of all kinds. For whatever reason, I seem to approach all of my posts similarly – dig through my personal recipe book for dishes that I’ve been cooking for years, wade through the memories that accompany them, and then circle back on the actual history and general origins of the dish. It always leads me to these tangential thoughts that are as much a delight for me as I hope they are for you, dear reader.
So when I approached the task of writing about tzatziki, I had to figure out more about this condiment that has become a mainstay of our household. Apparently, a quick search on Google turned up a plethora of facts, none of which are a true origin of sorts. You see, every country in the Levantine region (and beyond) has a different name and preparation for yogurt and cucumber. From soups to dips to condiments to sauces, all are really the same dish but with a slightly varied spin. I ended up cutting my loses and focusing on what I love so much about my version, content with the knowledge that tzatziki is truly beloved globally. And if you, dear reader, have any added insight, I’m all ears.
This version plays up my favorite flavors in tzatziki and allows them to be assertive and bright – plenty of lemon and mint add a floral note to the yogurt, and garlic a bit of a spicy kick. You can certainly change up the proportions of spices and herbs, but the amounts below are how I make it at home – unfussy, bright and lively. Use it as an accompaniment for kebabs or gyros, or as another component on a lavish mezze platter.
Lemony Tzatziki (Greek Yogurt with Cucumber and Mint)
12 oz. of greek yogurt
1 cl. of garlic, minced
zest of 1/2 a lemon
1/2 of a cucumber
1/4 c. of mint leaves
1/8 tsp. of salt
1 tsp. of olive oil
pinch of black pepper
Peel the cucumber and remove the seeds with a spoon. Chop finely or shred using the largest holes on a box grater. Place cucumber in a small bowl and stir in the yogurt, garlic, lemon, mint, salt, olive oil and pepper. Let sit for about 15 minutes to allow the flavors to combine. Serve.