all sorts of recipes and definitions for tzatziki. The basics are pretty much a yogurt-based sauce popular from the Middle East to old Persia. Cuts heat on some dishes; adds smooth, creamy texture to others. In India, you'd call it raita. Same concept.
I have some sitting in my fridge right now that's a bright, smooth, creamy, and spicy blend. I'll be making lamb kibbeh later (thaw lamby, thaw) and wanted to give the tzatziki components time to blend together. Since the lamb will be mint, pine nuts, currants, cumin, and corriander; I still need a little heat to the dish.
Enter the Garlic. The primary ingredients are, of course, the yogurt, cucumbers, mint, and lemon. But raw garlic provides such a great small burst of spicy heat that I just grabbed for it and started mincing without really planning much out in terms of recipe. Apparently, I was not alone in this line of recipe-thinking.
I ended up with a fairly measurable set of ingredients so you can try it out sometime if you're so inclined.
I got a bit zesty in the process of making this...since I am now the proud owner of two (count 'em two) microplane zesters. I am geek, hear me zest! That's right, I'm proud of my little shaved lemon skin. Which is really what you see in that picture. Lemon skin. Ewww. I'm the friggin' Hannibal Lector of fruit. What is wrong with me??!!??
Ahem. Moving on.
So yogurt, which I didn't take a picture of...it's yogurt? Check. Garlic? Check, Check. Lemon zest? Check to the Checkity.
What am I missing here?
Of course! Mint!
Sadly, the local mart did not have fresh mint (they did have lovely fresh rosemary). So I have a jar of dried mint now. I hope I don't get sick of kefta and kibbeh this winter.
A pinch of salt here, a turn of the pepper mill there. And you have tzatziki. Or at least some version of a yogurt sauce that I will call tzatziki (in part to practice my typing and get better with the "z" key. it's just too easy to spell raita on the keyboard without looking!)
Garlic, Lemon & Mint Tzatziki
2 cups plain yogurt (or greek if you can get it)
1 cup peeled, seeded, diced cucumber
Zest of 1 whole lemon (about 1 T)
Juice of 1 whole lemon (about 2 T from my juicy version today)
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 T dried mint
Salt and pepper to taste.
This one's easy. Measure it, chop it, squeeze it, put it in a bowl, stir it up. Taste and adjust.