Saturday, December 18, 2010

Get me to the Greek!

I’m going to suffer from Withdrawal symptoms when MasterChef Australia draws to a close. Yes, I know the results already. Remember how you felt when a random jackass sent you a text saying Dumbledore dies in the sixth Harry Potter, an hour after the copies were released? You waited years for the book; you saved up for it and stood in the line. Felt a watered-down version of that feeling, when I found out who the winner of Masterchef Australia 2 was.

It does not stop me from watching it every weeknight at 9, however. Masterclass, Celebrity Chef challenge, whatever. Geeky enough to catch them all. I park myself on the couch with an imaginary Do Not Disturb around me and the TV.

George Calambaris is one of my favourite judges. He’s incredibly proud of his Grecian roots (as he should be. I ate at Kryptos by Willi recently). When he made Tzatziki last week, I knew that I needn’t look further. OK. I confess; I upped the garlic and spiked it with vinegar.

Tzatziki is the new ketchup. I dunk my veggies/pita chips in it, make pita pockets with it, dress a salad, layer it in a Greek burger with feta et cetera. It goes with everything (for me) and I feel almost virtuous eating it. Make sure you follow all steps carefully, or you might end up with cucumber raita!



2 cups yoghurt

1 medium-sized cucumber

1 big lemon, zest and juice of

2 cloves of garlic, grated/minced fine

I shallot (Madras onion or spring onion), grated/minced fine

1 tsp white vinegar

Dill/Parsley- I small bunch (I use coriander)

Olive oil, for dressing

Salt, to taste


1) Hang the yoghurt in a thin muslin cloth for at least 2 hours. I pour Nestle dahi into an old, clean chiffon dupatta, form a little parcel and hang it from one of the kitchen hooks, a bowl placed strategically underneath. It does not measure up to Greek yoghurt, but hanging it overnight in the fridge helps. Try curd made from full-fat milk if you have that at home. Use the leftover whey in your regular chapatti dough. Instant protein-packed, soft chapattis.

2) Grate the peeled cucumber (not with a micro planer and make sure you taste to see if it’s bitter!) into a bowl and salt it. Keep aside for a good 15 minutes. This dehydrates the cucumber. Make sure you drain every last bit of water. Remember, you’ve already compromised on luscious, gourmet yoghurt.

3) Toss drained cucumber with the minced shallot, garlic and lemon zest.

4) Add the drained yoghurt (it almost looks like thick cream cheese now) to the cucumber mix. Add the juice of one lemon and a healthy teaspoon of Extra Virgin Olive oil.

5) Mix well, folding in the chopped herbs. Dress with some more Olive oil. Season with salt to taste.

6) Serve cold.

I served with fluffy pita bread, Chicken gyros, Hummus and a red onion salad. I recommend you make this a day early and stash it in the refrigerator. Tastes better, and your evening gets less hectic. Easy peasy.

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