Tzatziki is a refreshing Greek yogurt dip with a strong garlic flavor. It is made with full-fat Greek yogurt, grated cucumber, vinegar, olive oil, and plenty of garlic. Yeap, that's it! No lemon, no dill and IT IS NOT A SAUCE!
The reason I'm emphasizing this point so much is that I see the term Tzatziki Sauce so many times and I wanted you to know, first hand by a Greek (me) that Tzatziki is not a sauce.
It's a thick and creamy dip. Now don't get me wrong here, you can, of course, go ahead and make it any way you like, but here, I'm going to show you how to make the REAL Greek stuff...
How To Make
Making Tzatziki is very simple. It requires only 5 ingredients and a bit of mixing to make. Traditionally Tzatziki is mixed by hand so you avoid any yogurt lumps being left inside. Remember, authentic Greek yogurt is really thick not runny.
This is really helpful when making a big amount of it (like when I make it in our restaurant where I have to stir 20 kilos of it) it is almost impossible to stir it properly any other way.
Now of course you won't be making that big an amount yourself. But I'm mentioning it just in case.
For this recipe, which serves a big bowl (that's enough to serve as a dip for 4 people), you may stir the yogurt with a whisk first before adding the remaining ingredients.
This way, you make sure the yogurt is really smooth and lump free.
The Right Yogurt For Making Tzatziki
As I said above, Greek yogurt is thick and creamy. That's because it is usually above 3,5 % fat and it is strained. This means most of the amount of water has been drained out of it.
This is done using a cheesecloth, so if you can't find real Greek strained Greek yogurt, you may use a plain one and make it strained yourself. You can follow this tutorial on how to strain yogurt to make Greek yogurt.
Another thing you probably didn't know about Greek yogurt, is that the authentic Greek stuff is made using sheep's milk. Or sheep's milk combined with a small percentage of goat milk.
Since this is really tangy in flavor though, most people today prefer yogurt that's made from cow's milk for making Tzatziki.
If you want to try authentic Greek yogurt, here's a recipe for making Greek yogurt at home (just make sure you use the right milk).
Lots Of Garlic!
Now that I told you all about Greek yogurt, there is one more thing that needs to be clarified. Prepare yourself for lots of garlic!
You know how Greek food (and Greeks) are considered good friends of garlic. Well, here's the brightest example of this.
Proper Tzatziki is loaded with garlic. To the point, it burns in your mouth. And here comes the bread to rescue you, or even better the pita bread.
-You may want to try my homemade Pita bread made with Greek yogurt and no yeast.
It is better for Tzatziki to sit in the fridge for a few hours before serving. This way the garlic cools down a bit and the flavors have the time to blend together even better. For best results leave overnight or for about 8 hours before serving.
Other Ways To Eat Tzatziki
Yes, you've guessed it! Inside wraps or sandwiches. Like in Traditional Pork Pita Gyros or Chicken Gyros. Or simply as a side to Chicken Souvlaki or Pork Souvlaki or any grilled meat indeed. There isn't a better side to charred, fire-cooked meat, every Greek will tell you that. 😉
Tzatziki Recipe As Made In Greece
- 850 grams /1 lb + 14 oz full-fat and strained Greek yogurt
- 320 grams / 11.3 oz (2,5 cups) coarsely hand-grated English cucumber
- 2 teaspoons (about 15 grams) garlic cloves grated or pressed
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
- ⅔ teaspoon salt
- ground pepper
- Add the Greek yogurt to a large mixing bowl and work it with a hand whisk to become really smooth and creamy. Making sure there aren't any lumps in it.
- Squeeze the grated cucumber with your hands to remove most of its water. Then add to the mixing bowl along with the Greek yogurt.
- Add the remaining ingredients to the mixing bowl as well and mix very well.
- Refrigerate for at least 3 hours before serving for the garlic to cool down a bit. Or even better overnight. If you like raw garlic you can serve this dip right away, along with some pita bread or rustic artisan bread!
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