I’ve been having a bit of a born-again appreciation of tzatziki recently, which may be explained by the fact that I came back from my holiday to find two almost full large tubs of Greek yoghurt that needed to be used up immediately. Tzatziki is an excellent way to use up copious amounts of yoghurt but it also reminded just how damn delicious it is. The other thing you forget about tzatziki is its versatility – how many types of food from Middle Eastern, Mediterranean and Indian just taste better with a dollop of tzatziki on the side?
The night after I got back from holidays, I cooked up a whole heap of marinated vegetables on the barbecue and we ate them with some bread and tzatziki, and it was like a revelation. We spend so much time fussing about food, following recipes for this and that and then you eat something that is the most delicious thing you eaten for ages and it’s like nothing special – some barbecued veggies with a bit tzatziki on the side – but it is just the best.
Making tzatziki is very simple and easy. I like to grate the cucumber, as opposed to chopping it, and peel it in alternating strips so the tzatziki has some flecks of green in it. The recipe that follows uses less garlic than some but it still has a garlic bite, which I feel a good tzatziki needs.
The fritters are, again, very simple: the thing that sets them apart is the dipping in flour, then water, then flour again, which gives them a super crispy coating. The other thing that makes them particularly delicious is the oregano, salt and pepper mix. I was a bit ho hum about the oregano and salt idea but it is a lovely salt mix that would go well with any number of fried, grilled food and, particularly, some lemony, Greek-style roasted potato wedges.
Tzatziki: Yoghurt, cucumber and garlic dip
Adapted from Tess Kiros: Food from Many Greek Kitchens
(makes a good bowl full)
- 2 cloves of garlic
- 1 tablespoon of olive oil
- 1 small cucumber (about 160g)
- 1 teaspoon of salt
- 350g/1½ cups of full fat thick Greek yoghurt (or drained normal yoghurt)
- 1½ tablespoons of fresh mint or 2 teaspoons of dry mint
- Freshly ground black pepper to taste
- Crush garlic with a pinch of salt into a paste and put into the olive oil to temper.
- Peel and grate cucumber coarsely. Scatter with salt and leave to drain in a sieve for 30 minutes. Then press the cucumber down into the sieve to get as much water out as possible.
- Place yoghurt in a bowl. Add garlic and oil, pepper and mint and stir through well. Add cucumber and gently fold through. Taste for pepper and salt and adjust seasoning if desired.
The tzatziki can be kept covered in the fridge for quite a few days, the cucumber may expel more water but it can be stirred through the tzatziki.
Fried zucchini and eggplant fritters with oregano salt
- 1 teaspoon of salt
- 2 teaspoons of dried oregano
- A few grinds of black pepper
Mix all together and keep in an airtight container.
Sprinkle over, roast potatoes, grilled and fired vegetables or on bread with olive oil.
- 1 zucchini (about 200g)
- ½ eggplant (about 200g)
- Plain flour for coating
- Light olive oil for frying
- Oregano salt
- Place a bowl of flour and cold water near your stove.
- Cut the zucchini into slices of about 3 mm.
- Cut the eggplant in half moons of about 3 mm.
- Heat about 1 cm of olive oil in a large non-stick frying pan.
- Pat slices of eggplant and zucchini into flour so they are coated on both sides, then shake off excess flour. Dip slices into water shake off excess, dip again into flour and shake off excess before placing in hot oil.
- Fry in batches until golden, turning over once. Take care not to over crowd your pan and make sure you don’t cook them too quickly.
- Place on paper towel to drain and sprinkle with oregano salt. Continue until all slices are cooked.
Serve hot with tzatziki.
These fritters are so easy that you can just do a few – try fried eggplant fritters on a sandwich with tzatziki, tomato and lettuce as a quick lunch.