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Traditional Greek Tzatziki

Traditional Greek Tzatziki

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Tzatziki (pronounced  dzahˈDZIH-kee), is an appetizer, made from Greek whole fat strained yoghurt, cucumber, garlic, salt, vinegar and extra virgin olive oil, usually accompanying meat dishes.

What makes our tzatziki so delicious is the Greek yoghurt, which is velvety, thick, rich and full of flavour as well as our olive oil.  

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 can’t find Greek strained yoghurt, you can easily make it at home or use regular yoghurt.

In both cases, 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 are very tender and do not have any big seeds in them.  For this reason we grate them with the skin on.

If the cucumber you are using has big seeds, peel and remove the seeds before grating it.

How much garlic should I use?

Greek garlic is very strong so I would recommend 1 large clove for 200 grams of strained yoghurt.

However, when my son was studying in England, he told me that he had to use 4 – 5 cloves of garlic for the same amount of yoghurt and he couldn’t taste at all the garlic.

tzatziki in a bowl  image

In Cyprus, it is called talatouri. The only difference from the Greek tzatziki, is that dried, crumbled mint is also added inside and top.

Talatouri image
tzatziki in a bowl with an olive in the centre image

Traditional Greek Tzatziki

Yield: 1
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 10 minutes

Tzatziki is a traditional Greek appetizer, made with Greek strained yoghurt, cucumber, garlic, salt, vinegar and extra virgin olive oil, usually accompanying meat dishes.

Ingredients

  • 200 grams strained Greek yoghurt 2%
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 (or more) pounded cloves of garlic*
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 small cucumber, skin on, grated (about ¼ cup after fluid is removed)
  • 1 tbsp red wine vinegar

Instructions

  1. Peel and grate the cucumber using a box grater.
  2. Place it in a colander, sprinkle some salt on top and let it drain.
     Then squeeze it to remove excess liquid.
  3. Peel and pound the garlic together with the salt, using a pestle and mortar.
  4. Add to the cucumber as well as the olive oil, vinegar and yoghurt and mix all ingredients together (not with your hands as seen in
    some posts!!!).
  5. Cover with cling film and refrigerate at least 30 minutes before serving, always keeping it covered to avoid smell in the refrigerator

Notes

*In Greece garlic is very strong so I do not recommend using more.  You can adjust the amount according to your taste.

If using a British cucumber, peel it and then grate it. Half a cucumber is enough for the above amount.

In Cyprus some dried mint is mixed in the yoghurt.



Nutrition Information
Yield 1 Serving Size 1
Amount Per Serving Calories 282Total Fat 17gSaturated Fat 4gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 12gCholesterol 12mgSodium 1314mgCarbohydrates 22gFiber 2gSugar 17gProtein 12g

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Other relevant recipes:

Fetatziki

Minty Avocado and Purslane tzatziki

Cucumber Salad

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Collage traditional Greek ttzatziki image

Kopiaste and Kali Orexi,

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Domniki

Friday 24th of April 2015

My parents are from different regions, I've been to Greece many times, and I don't recall ever having tzatziki with lemon. There may be regional differences, and I know that dill is optional and the quantity of garlic variable by region (in Thessaloniki where my mother is from, they use lots of garlic in everything).

Ivy

Friday 24th of April 2015

Thank you for posting your opinion Domniki. With the internet you don't know what is traditional any more and what isn't.

Dimitris

Wednesday 5th of February 2014

I'm from Athens, Greece and everywhere in Greece I tried tzatziki (including of course homemade versions), it contained a little vinegar. The dill is optional, not the mint which must be a Greek-American addition (like the lemon). The grated cucumber is always there (grated and then strained), and the yogurt must be strained as you mention (we also call it "sakulas" meaning bag, from the bag in which it is strained).

Sharon

Wednesday 29th of December 2010

The first time I tried tzatziki was in the store where they were serving it with honey glazed naan bread. Fell in LOVE with it. Absolutely delicious. And now I can try to make it myself! Thanks for sharing =)

Ivy

Saturday 25th of July 2009

In Greek tzatziki we do not add lemon juice. Just vinegar.

pixen

Saturday 25th of July 2009

Which is suppose to be...with Vinegar or lemon juice? I'm confused here as my friend told me it should be vinegar and not lemon juice for Tzatziki...

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