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Wednesday, 21 May 2014

CYPRIOT TZATZIKI

Good Evening to you,


When we first moved to Cyprus, we lived in an apartment, as we had not decided where we wanted to live, so it was a handy base to explore the area. 

It was a sleepy area during the day, but in the evening the place came alive with activity. People would be out and about,  walking in the cool evening air, others would be sitting on their verandahs enjoying their evening meal, and the sound of people enjoying life would float through the air.

Across the road from our apartment, there was a lovely little taverna.  The taverna was owned by Maria and Georgios..... and they made the most wonderful kebabs, in fact, I think it would be fair to say, they specialised in making kebabs.  It was a family run business, and our arrival co-incided with the opening of the taverna. I used to sit on my verandah and watch Maria, Georgios and their family, getting the taverna ready for the opening day. I knew when opening day finally arrived, because my word, the smell of cooking filled the air.  From the day it opened the taverna was a huge success and the place was always filled with people, some staying to eat and others taking their food home.  During the winter months it would be mainly local residents who ate at the taverna and during the summer months it would be filled with local residents, families holidaying from Nicosia and tourists from abroad, but the one thing both seasons had in common was the fact that the taverna was always busy.

Now here's the thing, I really am not a great lover of meat, I enjoy it now and again, but I have to tell you, I loved the smell of the kebabs cooking on the grill.  

Once the meat had been cooked, the skewer was placed inside the waiting, warmed pita bread and in one swift movement, the pieces of meat were removed from the skewer and were inserted into the pita bread. With the meat nestled inside the pita bread, it was time for the topping, which would be an abundance of Greek salad, which was made by Maria's grandmother and mother. This was all neatly wrapped up in paper. There was an additional accompaniment,  which would be served with the kebab and this came in a little pot, and that something, was Tzatziki and it was divine. 

We became very good friends with Maria and Georgios and they would always wave and talk to us whenever we were out and about.  

When we first moved to Cyprus, George was backwards and forwards to England for a while. The first time George returned to Cyprus, I collected him from the airport. We arrived home and the first thing George did, was not change his clothes to put on his shorts, no, he went straight onto the verandah..... waved at Maria and called for 2 kebabs.... she waved back and told him it would take 30 minutes.....this gave George time to shower and change.... and do you know, as George was ready to collect the kebabs, there was a knock on the door.  George opened the door to find Maria standing there with the kebabs in her hand.  Maria handed George the kebabs and  she would not accept payment, she just said in her broken English "It is good to be home..... yes!" To which George replied "Nai, efcharisto" (yes, thank you.)  

George said once he could smell the jasmine in the evening air and heard people loudly talking and laughing,  he knew he was home...... and of course the kebabs made by Maria and Georgios were also a wonderful welcome home. 

Do you remember the little pot of tzatziki I told you about, 



well that is what we will be making today..... George is very happy, because he loves tzatziki, so without further ado, it's on with the pinnie and the music I am listening to is,



Sade, pronounced 'Sharday'.  This is a fabulous album and one we often listen to in the evening.  I love the whole album and while I listen to 'Love is Stronger than Pride' I will organise my ingredients.


INGREDIENTS

250g Greek Yoghurt
1 large cucumber
2 cloves of garlic
(or less if you prefer)
2 small sprigs of fresh mint
1 tablespoonful of lemon juice
1 teaspoonful of salt

HOW TO MAKE
TZATZIKI


Peel the cucumber,


cut in half and then
into quarters.


Using a teaspoon,
remove the seeds from the cucumber
then,


grate the cucumber.


Place the cucumber in
a sieve
and


sprinkle over 
1 teaspoonful of salt.
Leave to sit for 10-15 minutes
as this will help to remove
the liquid from the cucumber.
Be patient, as you do not want to miss this step,
otherwise you will have a watery tzatziki.


Press
the cucumber with the back of a spoon
to make sure you have removed as much
liquid as possible.

You can see here how much liquid I removed.


Crush the garlic
and
now it is time to mix the ingredients together.


Place the yoghurt 

and


the grated cucumber in a bowl
and mix together.

Add the crushed garlic 
and


lemon juice.
Add a little at a time,
taste
and mix together.


Remove the mint leaves from the stems
and
finely chop the mint.
Add to the ingredients.

Give everything a good stir
and taste
to see if more salt is required,
if so, add now.


You will find that once
you make your own Tzatziki
you will continue to do so.

A couple of things to mention, please do use 100% fat Greek Yoghurt, as if you use the low fat version you will loose some of the flavour and you will be disappointed in the end result.  

As far as the lemons are concerned, I have written in the list of ingredients, 1 tablespoonful of lemon juice, but add half a tablespoonful first and taste, as you do not want the tzatziki to be too lemony.  If you need more, add more after the first tasting.

I am so pleased because the mint I have used today, is from my garden. My herb bed is really growing well, since our weekend of warm weather..... long may it continue.

So take care, enjoy the Tzatziki and I will see you on Sunday.

This week I will be joining,


and







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