Tzatziki is an appetizer, called “orektiko” in Greek, made from Greek whole fat strained yoghurt, cucumber, garlic, salt, vinegar and extra virgin olive oil, usually served with pitta bread and served as a mezes. In Cyprus, mint is added and it is called talatouri.
What makes our tzatziki so delicious is the Greek yoghurt, which is velvety, thick, rich and full of flavour. However, using a low fat Greek yoghurt with 2% fat makes it equally delicious and you can save on some calories.
I have seen a lot of recipes in which dill, oregano or lemon are added in the tzatziki. These are probably Americanized versions of tzatziki.
If you ever visit Greece you will see that neither dill or lemon or oregano is added in any Greek tzatziki and the cucumber is always grated, so that you can enjoy the velvety taste of the yoghurt. However, if you like lemon instead of vinegar or dill or oregano, it’s your choice to add it.
If you don’t have Greek strained yoghurt, line a colander with cheesecloth or a coffee filter and put your regular yoghurt inside. Leave it for 4 – 5 hours, or preferably overnight in order to drain.
Cucumbers in Greece or Cyprus do not have any big seeds. If the cucumbers you are using have big seeds, remove them before grating.
- 1 full fat strained Greek yoghurt (250 grams – 8.80 oz)
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1 (or more) pounded cloves of garlic*
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 small cucumber grated (about ¼ cup after fluid is removed)
- 1 tbsp red wine vinegar
- 1 tablespoon dried mint (optional)
- Peel and grate the cucumber using a box grater. Place in a colander, sprinkle some salt on top and let it drain. Then squeeze it to remove excess liquid.
- Peel and pound the garlic together with the salt.
- Add to cucumber as well as olive oil , vinegar and yoghurt and mix all ingredients together (not with your hands as seen in some posts!!!).
- Sprinkle the mint on top.
- Cover with cling film and refrigerate at least 30 minutes before serving, always keeping it covered to avoid smell in the refrigerator
Note: Greek garlic is very strong so I do not use too much. You can adjust the amount according to your taste.
This recipe and many others are included in my cookbook Mint, Cinnamon & Blossom Water, Flavours of Cyprus, Kopiaste as well as in Volume 1 of the e-cookbook.
Other relevant recipes:
Kopiaste and Kali Orexi,