Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Tzaziki is Greek for Delicious

I love Greek food! I love souvlaki and spanikopita and Greek salad and Greek roast potatoes, but most of all I love tzaziki. My favourite tzaziki at a restaurant is from It’s All Greek to Me, a little restaurant on Rice Howard Way and Jasper Ave that I used to have lunch at when I worked next to there. I actually got them to sell it to me in containers for a little while, until I learned that the reason it tasted different was because it had sour cream in it. Since then, I have updated my own tzaziki recipe to be as close as possible, and can have delicious homemade tzaziki whenever I like.

1 cup of Greek yogurt
¼ cup Sour Cream
½ cup grated cucumber
pinch of salt
1 clove garlic finely chopped
some dill finely chopped

When buying Greek yogurt, sometimes I go to the Greek food store that is just west of 124 st. around 111 Ave, but more often I just get the stuff in my local grocery store that is called Balkan yogurt. To start you must “sweat” the yogurt and sour cream. Basically you just put it in a fine strainer over a bowl and cover with cling wrap then sit it in the fridge. If yours is metal, you may want to line it with cheesecloth or it will drip through. This plastic one works like a dream. Ideally you want to sweat it for eight or more hours. If you start it in the morning before running off to work that is great. If not, I have been known to cut it down to an hour if I am struck by an intense craving. It will just impact the consistency. Some people will like it a bit less thick anyway.

With about 30 minutes to go, grate the cucumber. I use an English one, because you don’t have to peel it and I like the green colour. Regardless of which kind you use, quarter it lengthwise and take out the seedy bit. Sprinkle the pinch of salt over it and put it in the refrigerator so that it too will release some of its liquid. This step is a good one to do before you worry about getting the main part of your meal going. Letting it sit for more than 30 minutes is fine, just cover it if it is going to be much longer.

Put the reduced yogurt and sour cream into the dish you are making the tzaziki in. Press the cucumber to get rid of as much liquid as possible (I press it between stackable glasses, or use my hands) and add it to the bowl. Throw in the garlic and dill and mix. Done!

I fully encourage you to play around with the amount of each of the ingredients, as the results will not be altered much if you adjust to taste. I like mine to be very strong and garlicky, but if you would like it to be milder, put in less sour cream and garlic and it will be more like what you get in other restaurants. It is nice to warm up your pita bread if you have picked it up from the grocery store. Don’t get the thin stuffing pitas; get the nice thick bread-like Greek pitas.

This is a great appetizer, or I make it to use as a tasty condiment for Greek potatoes or souvlaki or to eat with my spanikopita or even perogies. It will keep pretty well for a couple of days, but some liquid will rise to the top. Drain it off or just mix it in.

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