Saturday, September 19, 2009

Tzatziki, Raita, Maast-o Khiar, Jajik: Cucumber & Yogurt is a Good Idea

Cucumber in yogurt is a salad staple in many cuisines, from Greece, across the Middle East and on to India. Each country has its own favorite way to make this creamy, cooling side dish.

The basics:
  1. Pare a cucumber
  2. Add flavorings
  3. Dress with plain yogurt
  4. Chill to let flavors meld
The flavorings:

Every culture and seemingly every family has favorite flavorings for cucumber yogurt salad.
  • Garlic and salt are almost ubiquitous additions.
  • Green ingredients include chopped dill weed, cilantro, parsley, mint, or scallions.
  • Very thinly sliced onions add bite.
  • Spices such as pepper, cumin, turmeric or other spice may be added.
Simple or complicated?

The choice is yours.
  • Peel the cucumber. (Or not.)
  • To assure the yogurt does not get watery, remove the seeds from the cucumber, salt and let drain for 30 minutes before preparing the salad. (Or not.)
  • Use good quality Greek yogurt that has been drained. (Or not.)
  • Stir some flavorful olive oil into the yogurt. (Or not.)
For a quick, weeknight sauce to serve with rice and chicken, I like to
  1. slice a peeled and seeded cucumber,
  2. add store-brand plain low fat yogurt, chopped fresh dill weed, finely chopped garlic, salt and white pepper
  3. Stir.
I tend to make this first so that by the time the rest of supper is ready it has sat long enough for the flavors to meld a bit. No, this doesn't result in the most scrumptuous tzatziki/raita/maast-o khiar/jajik you ever had, but it's a great quick side dish!

No comments:

Post a Comment

Imprecise & Inexpensive

Two themes predominate in my approach to cooking. 1. Daily cooking of flavorful food need not be a precise art. 2. You can be an adventurous cook on a budget. Cooking and eating should be fun for both cookers and eaters.