Greek tzatziki is one of those quintessential, Greek dips known and loved throughout the world. A classic of Greek cuisine, it is perfect as an easy-to-make appetizer you can enjoy on a sunny day prior to a BBQ or just for accompanying a chilled beverage with family and friends.
Gluten-free? Perfect when accompanied with julienned carrots, celery, red or green bell peppers (capsicums), and of course, cucumber. Also great with ciabatta or Turkish bread.
Our Greek tzatziki is actually a Cypriot version called talattouri. It is thicker in texture than Greek tzatziki because it is made with labna (strained yogurt). Don’t worry, it is simple to make and is becoming quite common in Mediterranean delicatessens. You can also use Greek-style yogurt, albeit not quite as thick as using labna.
We also take a look at some other classic, Greek dips as well as the commonality of diet throughout the Eastern-Mediterranean region, only to discover adjoining countries share many of the same fare but call them different names.
Read on to discover more.
A Trilogy of Greek Dips
When growing up, we were blessed to live in a city full of Greek restaurants. One of my endearing memories was to visit one of these fine establishments and order a trilogy of Greek dips. They were always the same 3 dips. Hummus, taramasalata (fish roe) and of course, tzatziki. The Holy Trinity of Greek dips was always popular.
Since those simpler times, I have discovered other Greek dips that are just as good, such as Skordalia (potato and garlic) and Melitzanosalata (eggplant). But are they Greek?
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We have been fortunate enough to visit some other, nearby countries, Turkey, Bulgaria and let’s add Cyprus to that list. It becomes blindingly obvious that all 4 of these countries share a very common diet, of course, even if the dishes are called different names.
The yogurt from all of these countries is just superb. Without doubt the best I have tasted anywhere. Thicker than yogurt from other countries, outside of this region. They even make yogurt soup out of it as it is so good. Yogurt is used in all of these countries in the preparation of their dips and mezzes.
The same applies to feta cheese, great in salads and also great with breakfast such as Turkish poached eggs or the rather modern and eclectic avocado smash. Hard cheeses are also common throughout the region.
And did I say that Greek dips had their equivalents in Turkey and Bulgaria? Hummus is found everywhere throughout the Eastern Mediterranean and Middle East. And check out this great arrangement of Turkish mezes. They might even be better than the trilogy of Greek dips! You could easily imagine eating this on a beach in Cyprus or Greece, maybe under a different name (and sometimes the names are the same).
So which country receives the credit for each of the dips and mezes? I would imagine they all claim it as their own. Greece often receives the credit because it is part of the West, but I suspect that is not the whole truth and Turkey, Bulgaria and Cyprus have played just as important a part for the great dips and mezes found throughout the region.
What do you think?
Greek Tzatziki or Should That Be Talattouri?
So in honor of not really knowing where tzatziki originated from, today we are featuring a Cypriot version of Greek tzatziki called talattouri, a refreshing labna (strained yogurt), cucumber and mint dip. If you can’t source labna, you can make your own labna. It’s simple! Or just use thick, Greek-style yogurt.
Talattouri takes only 5 minutes to make and can be prepared ahead of time, making it perfect for busy people.
Serve with small pieces of celery and cucumber. If you are not paleo or gluten-intolerant, ciabatta is also a good option.