|Type||Dip or soup|
|Course||Appetizer, Side dish, Meze|
|Place of origin||Ottoman Empire|
|Main ingredients||Strained yogurt, cucumbers, garlic, olive oil, salt, sometimes lemon juice, dill, mint, or parsley|
|Variations||With strained or diluted yoghurt and other herbs and vegetables|
Tzatziki is a sauce served with grilled meats or as a dip. Tzatziki is made of salted strained yogurt (usually from sheep or goat milk) or diluted yogurt mixed with cucumbers, garlic, salt, olive oil, sometimes with vinegar or lemon juice, and some herbs like dill, mint, parsley, thyme etc. It is generally served as a cold meze.
The root cac is likely related to several words in Western Asian languages. Persian zhazh (ژاژ) refers to various herbs used for cooking. Evliya Çelebi's 17th-century Seyâhatnâme travelogue defined cacıχ (cacıg) as a kind of herb that is added to food. Ahmet Vefik Pasha's 1876 Ottoman Turkish dictionary defined cacık as an herb salad with yogurt. This remains the most common definition today.
Greek-style tzatziki sauce is sometimes served as a side with meat dishes; for example, it can be served with spiced chicken and vegetable couscous. It may also be served as part of an assorted meze small plate platter that is traditionally served with the anise-flavored liquor called ouzo.
Tzatziki is made of strained yogurt (usually from sheep or goat milk) mixed with cucumbers, garlic, salt, olive oil, and sometimes lemon juice, and dill or mint or parsley. Some variations are made with cattails or purslane, tofu, dill, and seasoned with Vege-sal and either whole allspice or spicebush berries.
Purslane is called glistrida in Greek and this may be called glistrida me yiaourti meaning "purslane and yogurt salad" rather than tzatziki. One simple recipe calls for purslane, olive oil, red wine vinegar and dill. Another is made with purslane, mint, cilantro, parsley and ground coriander, along with the standard yogurt-cucumber base.
Turkish cacık is made by combining a bit of water and yogurt in a deep bowl together with garlic and different combinations of fresh vegetables and herbs. The amount of water used depends on how thick the cook wants the cacık to be—sometimes the dish is served as a cold soup, but it can also be made thicker according to taste. Labneh may be substituted for some of the yogurt. Garlic is crushed in a mortar and pestle together with salt and the cucumbers are either chopped or grated. The crushed garlic, yogurt and cucumber are combined thoroughly before the dish is garnished with some combination of aleppo pepper, paprika, sumac or mint. It is especially popular during summer months and may optionally be served with ice.
When shredded carrots are added along with the cucumber it is called havuçlu cacık. In Turkey tarator is also called balkan cacığı and is made with fresh scallions and mint. Other cacık varieties may include shredded radish or chopped red pepper and fresh parsley. Dill can optionally be added as well. Some recipes add fresh basil or a tablespoon of vinegar. One version with basil is made with made with ground walnuts, hazelnuts and chopped fresh basil.
Not all cacıks are made with shredded cucumber—sometimes various types of leafy greens or herbs are used in combination with other ingredients. For exmaple, one version calls for boiled wheat berry (the same kind used to make Noah's Pudding) and fresh dill. It can also be made into a type of salad with purslane. Sometimes it is made with unripe (green) almonds called çağla in Turkish. It may be also made from wild edible plants like çıtlık and eaten in a wrap called dürüm.
For cacıklı arap köftesi, kofta made from a mix of bulgur and ground meat is served over cacık. In this case the cacık is made with chard rather than the usual cucumber. (Spinach or parsley may be substituted for the chard. Some recipes use purslane.) Bulgurlu madımak cacığı is made with cracked wheat, cucumber and a type of knotweed called madımak.
There are dishes similar to cacık called tarator in many Balkan countries.
In Bulgarian cuisine and Serbian cuisine, the same dish is known as "dry tarator" (Bulgarian: сух таратор, Macedonian: сув таратур, Serbian: сув таратор), or as "Snezhanka" salad (салата "Снежанка"), which means "Snow white salad", and is served as an appetizer. During preparation, the yoghurt is hung for several hours in a kerchief and loses about half of its water . The cucumbers, garlic, minced walnuts, salt and vegetable oil are then added.
In Bulgaria, Tarator is a popular meze (appetizer), but also served as a side dish along with Shopska salad with most meals. Sunflower and olive oil are more commonly used, and walnut is sometimes omitted. Tarator is seasoned with garlic and dill, both of which can be omitted if so desired. It's a popular dish in Bulgaria and a common refresher during the summer.
In Albania, Tarator is a very popular dish in summer time. It is usually served cold and is normally made from yoghurt, garlic, parsley, cucumber, salt and olive oil. Fried squids are often offered with Tarator.
A similar dish is made in Iran, called mast-o-khiar literally meaning yogurt with cucumber. It is made using a thicker yogurt, which is mixed with sliced cucumber, and mint or dill (sometimes chopped nuts and raisins are also added as a garnish).
A variation in the Caucasus mountains, called ovdukh, uses kefir instead of the yogurt. This can be poured over a mixture of vegetables, eggs and ham to create a variation of okroshka, sometimes referred to as a 'Caucasus okroshka'. Mizeria is another variation from Poland, using the same ingredients but substituting sour cream for yogurt.
In South Asia a similar dish is made with yoghurt, cucumber, salt and ground cumin (sometimes also including onions) called raita.
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