All You’ve Ever Wanted to Know About Tzatziki
If you’re like us, you can’t get enough of tzatziki’s deliciousness. Whether it is served with a pita, part of a mouthwatering gyro, or enlivening a calamari platter, tzatziki is one of the things we love most about Greek food – and it’s long been a staple of Greek take-out. This tantalizing garlicky sauce is as mysterious as it is amazing; creamy and packed with flavor, it can be hard to pinpoint what ingredients give this delicious sauce its unique taste, and where it all came from.
Let’s travel back in time.
A long time ago, when the Ottoman Empire was still in full trading swing, India was enjoying the simple pleasures of raita sauce, a seasoned yogurt-based dip. During this time, the Indian people were ruled by an elite Persian class that enjoyed the North Indian rice dish known as biryani.
However, the Indians would make the rice dish too spicy for the palette of the Persian elite. To balance out the fire of the spices, the Persians began to enjoy the soothing taste of the raita sauce. Cool as cucumber and soothing as yogurt, this classic Indian sauce was the perfect solution to the spicy rice.
When the Persians went back to the Middle East, they took the raita dish with them, and the beguiling sauce entranced culinary aficionados. More than any other nation in the Ottoman Empire, the Greeks enjoyed this dish immensely. However, they also experimented with this classic cucumber and yogurt dip until its Indian roots were almost invisible. Tzatziki (derived from the Turkish word cacık) was born.
What’s in Tzatziki Now?
The classic Greek tzatziki that you know and love generally contains the following ingredients:
- Strained yogurt
- Olive oil
- Red wine vinegar
- Lemon juice, mint, or parsley