Sunday, November 17, 2013



Listen to your heart, listen to your soul, listen to your taste buds , look around where you live , be as confident as the head chef as advised by Gordon Ramsay, and you will be happy and all will be perfect. So I was involved in a bit of discussion about precision of the quantity of ingredients with my fellow bloggers. I maintain that you eyes , taste buds, love is all that is required. So Calcutta has this funny weather, cool in the mornings, quite hot during the day time. So I badly wanted a summer salad and something creamy and well voila I had cucumbers, garlic and yogurt, hung my curd for the creaminess than Tzatziki offers. 

See my affair with Tzatziki began when I had first lain my eyes upon its recipe way back in 2007. I was browsing through British Council's books when I decided to visit the cook-book section and laid eyes upon this beautiful book of salads. There were enough salads to last for years and years, cooked , uncooked, summer salads, winter salads, vegan, vegetarian, non-vegetarian etc. I took the pains of writing down as many recipes as I liked and those which had ingredients that are easily available fresh in India.  

See I was always for fresh ingredients for reasons of health taste etc but ever since I got married my environmental friendly husband had pointed out how much fuel we waste by importing things. While I still cannot resist cheese I guess it did have an effect on me so I try and buy these which are locally made and India is producing some tatsy Gouda, Goat's cheese and an array of other cheeses. Thanks to J.Johnson in New Market I get to compare these cheeses with the foreign ones and must say that the taste of our Indian brands are not that bad. Well of course I still use some imported products but am trying to reduce my footprints . Anyways so this tzatziki is much simpler than it sounds. Do not head of towards the market to buy a jar of Greek yogurt. Greek yogurt is nothing but hung curd. So if possible make curd and hang it in a muslin cloth till all the whey has been drained else buy a packet of curd and hang it either ways you have lovely creamy yogurt :) 

For years I have followed the recipe from this beautiful book on salads that I had found in British Council which only dealt with salads. For no good reason I searched for yet other recipes and what I found made me chuckle. While my former recipe had called for a clove of garlic with the same amount of yogurt and cucumber Mr.Lebovit's recipe calls for 4 cloves. My former did not include olive oil this new one did. My former had paprika , this did not. So I headed straight for the market and was shocked to find that no one in such an old market has mint leaves which is available all the time. Maybe my friend's grandmother is right maybe this is the 'Kalikal' The dark times. 

Well Tzatziki I would make with our without mint. I listened to my taste buds. Used 3 cloves of garlic, added the olive oil and did not use paprika. I had a happy happy happy lunch . Here is to everyone's happiness no matter how varied their taste buds are. here is to cooking from the heart 

This post is especially dedicated to someone I know who has recently moved to another country for higher studies and have started cooking on her own. Easy to make , healthy and tasty to have I hope this strikes a chord with all of you. Now there are varieties of this recipe which has dill leaves parsley and even paprika so experiment to your heart's content. 

What goes in is simple : 

  1. 1 large cucumber chopped in small bite sized pieces. Now authentic ones demand that you deseed and chop them but why waste food? So I never have deseeded cucumbers 
  2. 250gm of curd / yogurt hung and drained of all its whey in a thin cloth 
  3. 3 cloves of garlic (see as I have written in the post please listen to your taste buds even if you are new in the kitchen. So you must be knowing if you like garlic or not so if you like it strong then add 4 cloves (maximum) and for mellow flavours you can do with 1 clove. Now cloves are also tricky there are many sizes so cook with your eyes. 
  4. 1 tsp castor sugar which I usually leave out if the yogurt is fresh 
  5. A handful of chopped mint leaves (Due to unavailability of mint leaves I had to leave them otu thsi time but it tasted wonderful, of course the minty leaves when added which I have previously done leaves you with a summery feel) 
  6. Salt as per taste
  7. 1 tablespoonful of extra virgin olive oil (why extra virgin because ti is the best one for your health so cheers to your heath) 

Its simple simple, make hung curd, it takes about 1 hour to 2 hours or could be less but I just leave it hanging and complete pending work. It would be creamy enough to make you smile if creamy dishes make you happy without creating panic for your hips :) Mix the Evol (extra virgin olive oil) , salt , minced garlic (mincing the garlic as small as you can ensures a uniform taste ) chopped mint leaves and add add your cucumbers. You should ideally start with the oil and curd and then slowly add salt and then garlic and finally the mint leaves. Ah of course the cucumbers as well at last :) Mix well and enjoy a simple lunch with perhaps some steamed fish or chicken :) Here is to everybody's health. 

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