Thursday, 6 June 2013

Cucumber Mint Yogurt - Laban ma'Khiyar

This is not "Tzatziki". Although it looks like Tzatziki, it isn't. Tzatziki is made with lemon and dill. This recipe has no lemon or dill but does have sour cream and mint.  The mint and garlic will definitely wake your taste buds out of their slumber. This is usually served as a side dish or condiment to tomato sauce dishes, stuffed squash, stuffed grape leaves, lamb or kabobs.  I don't have a logical explanation but somehow this odd mint and garlic combination seems to compliment Middle Eastern food so well...maybe it's magic?

Let's get started...

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The line-up showing up for role call 

PEEL your cucumbers! Cut in half lengthwise...TWO...


SIX...EIGHT...please make sure to cut them straight!
Just kidding, but do cut them as evenly as you can

Lay each piece on its side and cut off the seeds. One down, 55 (or so) more to go! Sorry you probably didn't want to hear that. By removing the seeds, your end result won't be watery and the cucumbers will not be soggy even after days in the fridge.

Gather them in one bunch and cut into a small dice.

Put all the small diced cucumbers in a bowl

Add the yogurt

Add salt (not pictured sorry) and stir until combined

Add sour cream and stir again 

Put about 1-2 tsp dried mint leaves in the palm of your hand and rub between your two hands using a circular motion. This will not only ensure you don't get large pieces of inedible mint but it will also release the oils in the dried mint.  If you have fresh, PLEASE use it. Not sure about the measurements though.

Stir in the mint

Your eyes are not deceiving you. There ARE 10 garlic cloves on my cutting board. 
Use less if 10 cloves scare you. 
Smash each garlic clove and sprinkle with a little salt. When you sprinkle salt on garlic it will soften it and when you dice it it will be a little moist which is what we want because...

We are looking for a texture similar to a chunky paste. You could do this by rubbing the back of your knife against it or use a mortar and pestle.

Almost there...

Hard to tell, but this is as close to a paste as my patience would let me achieve. 
Now the garlic is in. There is no turning back. It is finished. 
If you make your entire dinner gathering eat this no one will be offended by the strong garlic odor. This paste can also be achieved by using a food processor with a little salt. 

One way to decorate

A big THANK YOU to my sister in law for decorating this one for me! The "rose" is simply a thinly peeled tomato that is peeled in a spiral fashion around the tomato. You will end up with one long spiral peel, curl it within itself in a circular motion and you will get something that is similar to a rose. Use a long parsley stem and some basil or mint leaves to complete the look.

2 lbs Plain Yogurt
7-9 Persian Cucumbers, peeled, seeded and diced
10 cloves garlic* (no, that isn't a typo)
1 tsp Salt
1/4 C slightly heaping Sour Cream
7 tsp Dried Mint

Combine yogurt, sour cream and salt. Add the peeled, seeded and diced cucumbers. By removing the seeds, the end result will not be watery and the cucumbers will not be soggy, even after a few days in the fridge they will still maintain their crunch!  Over the yogurt, rub the mint in a circular motion between the palm of your hands 1-2 tsp at a time. Smash your garlic cloves and put a little salt on them and dice and dice. Rub with the back of your knife or use a mortar and pestle to create somewhat of a moist chunky paste. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour. Overnight is best. It tastes so much better the next day.

*You could always use less garlic or mint to suit your taste. This recipe is strong in garlic. Also, you could always opt for a low fat yogurt and low fat sour cream, keeping in mind that the taste and texture will be a little different.