Mama's Tzatziki aka Talattouri

If you usually get your tzatziki in the supermarket, this fresh-tasting Cypriot recipe from Georgina Hayden will be a complete revelation.

From the book

Taverna: Recipes From a Cypriot Kitchen by
Taverna: Recipes From a Cypriot Kitchen
Feast your way through these authentic Cypriot recipes
Family favourite dishes for weekend feasts
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My mum is an incredible cook and has a vast repertoire of dishes. However, this is one of the things I associate with her most: proper Greek tzatziki, or, as we call it, talattouri. She always makes it in abundance whenever we are having a family celebration or party, and mine is just never as good. The cucumber is salted and drained, a small step but a key one, as it gives you an intensely creamy dip – it shouldn’t be at all runny.

Serves 4-6


1 cucumber
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 small garlic clove
1 tsp dried mint
500g Greek yoghurt
extra virgin olive oil
½ a lemon


Start by draining the cucumber. Trim it and coarsely grate it into a mixing bowl. Mix in 1 teaspoon of flaky sea salt (if using fine sea salt, use ½ teaspoon), then spoon it into a clean, fine sieve. Leave it to drain over the mixing bowl for 1 hour, stirring occasionally to remove all the liquid. When it is ready, spoon it into a larger mixing bowl. Finely grate in the peeled garlic clove and add the dried mint and a good pinch of ground black pepper.

Spoon the yoghurt into the fine sieve. You don’t want to press it through, just to remove any excess liquid. When it’s drained, spoon it into the bowl with the grated cucumber, drizzle in 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil, squeeze in a little lemon juice to taste and mix everything together well. Serve finished with a little drizzle of oil on top and sprinkled with a little extra dried mint.

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