The classic Greek condiment that's as useful as it is delicious.
You find lots of different yoghurt-based dips and sauces across the entire Mediterranean, North Africa and on throughout the Middle East. By the time you hit India, they’re fully fired up with herbs and spices, transformed into the many varieties of raita.
I love the Greek version, tzatziki, for its simplicity and cooling freshness, loaded with cucumber and mint. I think of it as my summer condiment, and am always finding new ways to use it. It's traditional alongside barbecued meats and seafood, useful spread inside wraps like souvlaki, or served simply as a dip with bread or crudités. I love it with roast chicken pieces, swirl it into cold soups and drizzle it over perfectly ripe tomatoes for a quick and easy salad.
If you are using ordinary unflavoured yoghurt rather than Greek-style, you will need to remove some of the water by letting it drain through a paper towel–lined sieve overnight. Don't use non-fat yoghurt as it will turn into a milky puddle once it meets the lemon juice and cucumber.
Tzatziki is best made well in advance of serving it. Giving it at least a couple of hours' sitting-around time in the fridge will let its flavours mingle and intensify. Tzatziki can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to a week.
Makes about 2 cups.
1 cucumber (to make about 1 cup when grated)
1 cup natural Greek-style yoghurt
1 clove garlic
¼ cup fresh mint, finely chopped
½ teaspoon sea salt flakes
Peel the cucumber and cut it in half lengthways. Remove the seeds by running the point of a teaspoon down its length.
Grate the cucumber with a coarse grater into a colander, cover with a piece of paper towel and press out as much liquid as you can.
Put the yoghurt in a small bowl. Using a fine grater, add the zest of the lemon, then cut it in half and add its juice. Use the same grater to add the clove of garlic.
Add the mint, salt and cucumber and stir until combined.