This tzatziki and I new besties. Or shall I say reacquainted besties. A bestie that I just can’t get enough of lately.
I’ve always loved tzatziki, but I became particularly fond of it when we traveling the Peloponese coast of Greece. And to narrow things down even further, it was one particular restaurant in the little fishing village of Agios Nikolaos that got me hooked (no pun intended). Okay, so what was so special about this very Greek, very authentic tzatziki recipe? Besides the fact that it tasted awesome, it had carrots in it! GASP! How brilliant is that? As a not so keen on carrots person, I am forever trying to hide carrots in food or by some miracle trying to transform them into something amazing. And this authentic tzatziki did exactly that.
The best ever authentic Greek tzatziki recipe WITH carrot!
Okay, when I say best, I mean best in my books. Despite the dreary weather in Hamburg I’ve made this 4 times in the last two weeks! No summer feeling or Greek holiday required to enjoy fresh homemade tzatziki. Okay, that also means my carb-load increased as I like it best served with warm pita bread. I’ve tried the whole grain type because of course it’s the healthier choice, but my absolute favourite is good ole standard Greek style pita bread. Broccoli spears dipped in tzatziki are pretty good too.
Warm pita bread tastes best with tzatziki
Of course you can warm pita bread in the oven, but my personal favorite is “grilled” in a pan. It’s almost as if you put it on the BBQ. Just brush each side of the pita bread with olive oil, put it in a hot grill skillet and away you go. But there is a trick to getting those grill marks. My method is to lay a heavy skillet on top of the pita bread while it’s in the pan, just for a minute or two, then flip it over, “grill” the other side. Magical. So magical that Amazon even sells a fancy contraption made from cast iron, for exactly this. Fancy grilled sandwiches in a skillet.
Homemade tzatziki is best if you prep the cucumber ahead of time
The key to a not a thick and creamy tzatziki is not just the original Greek yoghurt, but also drawing out the extra moisture from the cucumber. Cucumbers are packed with water! So you want to scoop out and discard the watery middle (I don’t do this if I use mini cucumbers) grate them, season them with a little salt and then let them stand in a colander over a bowl. Not only does the salt help draw out more of the water, but it also improves the flavour AND keeps the cucumber crisp.
2 x 170 g container authentic Greek yogurt
1 English cucumber, seeded and grated (or two mini cucumbers) (*see note)
1 small carrot, grated
1/2 lemon, juiced
1/2 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 tablespoon chopped fresh dill
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
sea salt, to taste
1. Place the grated cucumber in a sieve, rest it on a bowl and add a little sea salt. Give it a stir, and leave to drain for 1-2 hours. Stir now and again, helping it along by pushing the liquid out with a spoon.
2. In a medium bowl, add the yogurt, cucumber, carrot, lemon juice, olive oil, dill, garlic and salt. Mix together until well combined. Taste and add more lemon juice or garlic depending on preference. Done!
3. Serve with warm pita, crudités, or for meat lovers, grilled lamb. I like to serve the tzaziki with pita bread that is heated in a grill pan with a little olive oil. Enjoy!
*NOTE: to prepare the grated cucumber, slice the cucumber in half lengthways and cut or scrape out the seeds – this is where most of the water content is. Grate the remaining cucumber using the large holes of a box grater. If I use mini cucumbers, I grate them whole without removing the seeds.