It is difficult to say for certain where tzatziki originated. However, most believe that the incredibly popular Greek dip has an ancient origin that was influenced by Indian cuisine: specifically, Indian raita sauce. It is believe that tzatziki was the Greeks’ interpretation of the Indian dip. The Greeks likely became aware of Indian raita as a result of voyagers on Ottoman trade routes spanning from India to the Middle East to Europe. Once the sauce made its way to the Middle East and Europe, it was renamed. The word “tzatziki” derives from the Persian word “zhazh”, which means “herb mixture”. There are many recipes similar to tzatziki all over the Middle East, Greece, and the Southern Balkans. However, the sauce is the most famous (and in my opinion, the most delicious) in Greece.
1/2 large cucumber, unpeeled, grated
1.5 cups plain full-fat Greek yogurt
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar or lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
1 tablespoon fresh dill, chopped
Drain the grated cucumber through a fine sieve or cheese cloth for at least 3 hours. Adding salt to the cucumber helps to release water more quickly.
In a large bowl, mix together the yogurt, garlic, oil, vinegar, and salt. Cover and allow to sit for at least 3-4 hours.
Fold the cucumber and fresh dill into the yogurt mixture. Serve with pita bread for dipping. Tzatziki is also perfect with grilled chicken, gyros, or souvlaki.
*Feature photo courtesy of http://www.simplyrecipes.com*