Thursday, 24 April 2014

Tzatziki (also known as Cacik)

A delicious, creamy dip infused with garlic, salted cucumber and lemon juice, dressed with extra virgin olive oil.

I've given this its most popular name of Tzatziki, but my recipe and reason for posting it, is as a collection which go together (with some other Turkish recipes), remniscent of my favourite foods from there including this, the Turkish version known as 'Cacik'. They both contain essentially the same (or at least very similar) ingredients, and both vary slightly regionally, so I'd be hard-pressed to say for definite which was which from any given region or restaurant! The main difference is that Turkish cacik is slightly thinner than Greek tzatziki.

It's very easy to make, but the fundamental thing about Tzatziki is that it's not just cucumber grated or chopped in yoghurt, the cucumber has to be salted first to give it that authentic flavour.

Serves six, 54 calories per portion (or 38 calories per portion if using fat free Greek yoghurt, see notes).

If you fancy putting together a nice Turkish feast, with a shopping list and preparation plan, then have a look here!
Delicious served alongside my Hummus, with some Spiced Pitta Crisps and a selection of raw vegetables.

  • 1/2 to 1/3 of a cucumber (200g after de-seeding) [22]
  • 1 tsp fine sea salt
  • Juice 1/2 to 1 lemon (1.5 to 3 tbsp) [6-12]
  • 1 garlic clove (or more to taste) [6]
  • 1 tsp extra virgin olive oil (plus more to drizzle) [45]
  • 250g Greek yoghurt* (e.g. Total, see notes) [240]

Slice the cucumber in half lengthways, and remove the seeds with a teaspoon (scrape it down the middle).

Grate the cucumber flesh and skin coarsely, and put into a colander or sieve over something to catch the juice (or over the draining board of the sink). Sprinkle over the salt, and quickly mix in, then leave to stand for 30 minutes.

Gently squeeze out all of the excess moisture (you don't need to rinse the cucumber first) and then place into a bowl with a crushed garlic clove (you can add more to taste at the end, but I find one is plenty), the juice of half a lemon (1 and 1/2 tbsp), and the extra virgin olive oil. Mix thoroughly.

Give the Greek yoghurt a good stir with a fork, to make sure it's smooth, and then add to the cucumber mixture, half first, then the remainder, stirring in until thoroughly combined. Have a taste, and then adjust the lemon juice to your tastes - for my tastes, I like to add the juice of the full lemon, so at this point I add another 1 and 1/2 tbsp. Leave for an hour or so for the flavours to combine together - you can make this a day in advance (although you'll need to give it a quick stir before stirring, as the liquids will separate slightly).

Drizzle with a little more extra virgin olive oil to serve, if desired.


Add a handful of finely chopped fresh mint or dill, depending on what you're serving it with (add chopped dill for more of a Greek feel.

If you want to reduce the calories, you could use fat free Greek yoghurt instead, which would have a total of 143 calories for the 250g, giving you 38 calories per portion, but the difference in flavour and lack of creaminess is just not worth it for me, for a handful of calories, and full fat Greek yoghurt has other benefits to it as well.

If you're having a bit of a Greek mezze, why not try my baked feta in tomato and oregano sauce as well, it's delicious served hot and dippable with crusty bread!

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