Every time I make a bowl of tzatziki I’m transported back to hot afternoons sitting in the shade of the olive trees outside Alexi’s bar in Lindos.
As self appointed ‘style police’, we’d pass judgement on the highly suspect sartorial state of the day trippers, virtually sentencing offenders to anything from a yellow card to summary execution. In front of us, rivulets of condensation would be running down the outsides of our large Amstel beers and a chilled bowl of creamy tzatziki with pitta bread would be disappearing at an alarming rate. Ah, heady days.
I found that the tzatziki varied from island to island and restaurant to restaurant, always home made and always fresh. Some would add lots of mint, others very little. Sometimes the cucumber would be cubed rather than grated, and the ratio of cucumber to yoghurt was an ever moveable feast. But the creamy oxymoronic combination of cool, tongue stinging flavour made tzatziki my all time favourite element of Greek mezes.
After years of experimenting with all kinds of combinations, this easy peasy, quick recipe is the one that I now stick with and is the closest I’ve tasted to ‘the real thing’. If it’s good enough to transport me back to Alexi’s bar – then I reckon I’ve cracked it.
The important ingredient to get right here is the yoghurt, it must be authentic Greek yoghurt, not ‘Greek-style’ yoghurt.
Ingredients for Tzatziki
- Half a medium sized cucumber
- 250 grams of Greek yoghurt
- 1 large or 2 small cloves garlic – crushed
- Fresh mint – finely chopped
- Olive oil
- White wine vinegar
- Dried dill
Preparation for Tzatziki
Wash and grate the cucumber and squeeze as much moisture from it as you can. Place in a bowl with the crushed garlic and the Greek yoghurt and mix thoroughly ensuring the garlic is evenly distributed. Add the mint – how much or how little you use will be down to personal taste. I use a small handful – and mix well. Drizzle in a dash of olive oil and a dash of white wine vinegar, add a pinch of dried dill and mix again.
Chill, decorate with a sprig of mint and serve with pitta bread.
And if you happen to spot anyone wearing extremely bad taste in clothing while you’re enjoying your tzatziki – feel free to issue a red card.
Andrea (Andy) Montgomery is a freelance travel writer and co-owner of Buzz Trips and The Real Tenerife series of travel websites. Published in The Telegraph, The Independent, Wexas Traveller, Thomas Cook Travel Magazine, EasyJet Traveller Magazine, you can read her latest content on Google+