Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Tzatziki Sauce – Can You Say Delicious?

Whenever I do ethnic recipes like this Greek tzatziki sauce, I’ll usually go online and listen to an audio dictionary or some YouTube videos to verify the pronunciation. Of course, just listening to it doesn’t mean I’ll actually be able to pronounce it that way. A western New York accent is a strange and unpredictable thing, but at least I know how far off I am.

This time things were a little different.  I must have listened to a half-dozen examples, and they all were fairly unique. Everything from how I say it, TA-ZEE-KEY, to something that sounded a lot like CHA-CHEE-KEE, which, by the way, is my new favorite way to say it. Just for fun, maybe you all can leave your best phonetic spelling of “Tzatziki” in the comments section, and we’ll see what the consensus is.

Unlike the pronunciation, one thing that everyone will agree on is that this garlicky yogurt sauce is truly of one of the world’s great condiments. This is quite literally delicious on anything savory, and with grilling season upon us, you’ll want this one in your regular rotation. I hope you give it a try soon. Enjoy!

Make about 3 cups of Tzatziki:
2 cups Greek yogurt
1 large cucumber, peeled, grated, tossed with 1/2 teaspoon of salt
4 cloves garlic, very finely minced
juice of half a lemon or vinegar to taste
3 tbsp chopped fresh dill and/or mint
salt, pepper, cayenne to taste

View the complete recipe


Lemming said...

Sisyphus. Well played, Chef John. Well played.

Thom said...

Playing along with Chef, I propose Zah-Tiki: I'm suggesting the first T and the second Z be silent. My logic? Well, I have heard it commonly pronounced (as you suggest) as Ta-Zee-Key, which seems like an arbitrary decision to ignore the first Z and the second T...why not the reverse? ;) Call it what you like, its delicious by any name!

Lupe said...

Disclaimer: I'm German, but I know a little bit of Greek, and my accent is acceptable to Greek people. And I grew up with Americans in Berlin.

Not pulling your leg, the best phonetic spelling of Tzatziki is Tzatziki, well maybe Tzatzeekee.

The Greek spelling is τζατζίκι. The funny curly ζ is a Zeta, which in Greek is a voiced S, zzzz ;-)

The next best thing to Tzatziki is Tsatsiki, which is what most Germans come up with.

Definitely no Chacheekee. Greeks can't pronounce the Ch. John becomes Tson for them.

So, Tseph Tson, I hope this helps ;-)

WolfyDaddy said...

Love it!

I would say: dza-DZEE-kee

Thanks, Chef John

WolfyDaddy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Nat Berry said...

In Sweden they pronouce it like tza-tzi-key, it's my favorite way =]

roddie said...

This is very similar to the recipe that I've always used (except that I'm a dill-only kind of guy).

I strain regular yogurt through a cheesecloth for a few hours, however, instead of buying the Greek kind that's so popular nowadays. I think it tends to taste more fresh and creamier, but YMMV.

Thanks for the great recipes, Chef John!

cookinmom said...

GYRO, GYRO, GYRO!!! Oh how great it would be to learn how to make one!

MJ said...

Pronunciation aside, this stuff is disgusting! Never understood why people like tzatziki.

Jasmine Terwilliger said...

Wow, considering how often my family buys pitas, I woud love to see how you make it! That's my first food wish. And I usually pronounce it "tsa-zee-key."

Jason Divchev said...

This sauce is very popular in Bulgaria and the name is “Tarator”

2 cups high quality yogurt
1 medium cucumber, peeled and finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, finely minced
3 tbsp chopped fresh dill
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp minced walnuts
salt and vinegar to taste

When cold water is added (to taste), could be used as a “cold soup” during the summer.

There is another one for very hot summer days, with no yogurt:

2 cups water
1 medium cucumber, peeled and finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, finely minced
3 tbsp chopped fresh dill
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp minced walnuts
2 tbsp vinegar
salt to taste

Thomas S said...

Great video, Chef. Im Greek and these are the perfect ingredients. We use Daisy sour cream instead, very thick and tangy. If you cut the cucumber length wise down the middle and scrape out the insides with an upside down spoon you can skip the whole draining process. Cheers!

PickAColour said...

How long can/should I store this Tzatziki in the fridge for?

Would it be possible to freeze and save for later?


Chef John said...

Never tried to freeze, but lasts 3-4 days no problem.

Judy said...

One of my very very favorite condiments in the world, for sure! I loveeee Gyros, and this is a must sauce for those, of course. I had a Greek person tell me that it is pronounced Zat-zee-kee, but I used to just call it cucumber sauce before I learned how to say it. I don't care what you call it, as long as I get to eat it! ;)
<3 Thanks Chef!!

etmeaney said...

Love it and make the same recipe quite often. We eat it with chicken and pitas and use a variation for our fish tacos, a little less cucumber, add jalapeno and use lime instead of lemon...yummy. Thanks!

Unknown said...

Hello from Rochester Ny!

Chef, that homemade pita bread looks amazing! Would be great if you did that recipe next please and thank you!

Lovetaler said...

Ja as we say jar, ji as we say jimmy, ki as we say kilo.. Or rather dza-dze-kee... I am greek btw.

Good said...

I used to HATE garlic, and was not able to digest it.. Until tzatziki. I have no idea why , but really fresh almost-three-ingredients tzatziki makes garlic bearable to me. But Then I can smell it on my skin for days.. Oh well, great against moskitos!! Perfect for nights at the beach! :)

NetKerveros said...

Tzatziki was the first thing I learn how to make from my mother and when I make it I spread it almost on everything. It even goes great with pizza! You made it exactly the traditional way but one difference, we add olive oil. It makes it richer in flavor... and with more calories!

Kay said...

I would agree with the tzatziki pronunciation. think of saying "cats" out loud, then "cats-ah". The second syllable is the beginning of tzatziki. ts(ah)-ts(ee)-kee. :) Or if you wanna go to the second one, it's easy...as in ih-(ts-ee)-zee. That's the (kee) to it all!

Harry S. Bedevian said...

Let an Armenian teach you how to say it. After all, our alphabet consists of sounds that are difficult to pronounce and which sound like you are coughing up a lung:


Armenian food wishes Chef John! We will love you forever! The world's oldest wine and oldest shoe were both found in Armenia's caves.

Kathy Berken said...

I made something like this when we had gyros, my son's birthday meal. And we're not even Greek. I mean, Dutch/German?
So, my best Eastern Europen pronunciation is this:

snowflake said...

Cindy Soo said...

Try it on broiled shrimp or souvlaki, it's so devine!!!

Benny Be said...

made this the other day with some gyro's .....Awesome!!!

Food Junkie said...

Awesome recipe chef John and one of my favourite sauces. I usually really load it up with garlic.

For PickaColour and the question about freezing Tzatziki the answer is that it probably doesn't freeze well. Cucumbers tend to go to mush when frozen and the yogurt can turn lumpy. The flavour may change some as well. If one really wanted to freeze it I would suggest freezing a small batch and see if you like what you get.

mdb139 said...

I made this last night as a condiment to serve with lamb shish kabobs and nan -- inspired by your video, of course.

The tzatziki was great! I roasted the garlic first b/c I prefer to temper the flavor a bit, and used parsley b/c my wife didn't feel like mint or dill (I think mint would have been perfect).

Turned out great -- and the perfect condiment for our shish kabob taco-like-things. Even the kids liked it!

Thanks for another great recipe Chef John!

J. Dickinson said...

Made this yesterday. It is phenomenal. I may even put it on my Cheerios. Thank you!

Chris said...

One of my favorite condiments ever, even if I might be mispronouncing it. Don't get me started on "what's-this-here sauce".

Libby said...

Chef John--You are torturing me (and my family); I've got the Greek yogurt made, and I feel like I am dying over here...waiting, pacing, hoping, praying, and ready to offer up my first born child (just kidding)...waiting for your homemade pita recipe.

Nancy said...

Made this recipe just as written using 1% Greek yogurt, vinegar, both dill and mint. It's great. I tend to like a little olive oil with my (Armenian) tzatziki, even just a teaspoon. But to keep it lower in calories it can be served with optional olive oil drizzled on the top.

TarraAncientStar said...

I made both your pita bread (which I made gyros out of)and the tzatziki sauce. It was very simple and delicious. Watching your recipes builds up my confidence in cooking and makes me want to try new things. Thank you Chef John.

Yannis Tsakiridis said...

Nice recipe Chef John but how about you stick to the cooking and leave the comments about the economic crisis out. You are American and this global crisis is the tsunami of your bank break down in 2008. But really, is that what they tell you over there? that the Greeks are responsible for the crisis? How about you read the news once in a while or if it's hard work, take a look at this: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1645089/. The filmmaker is from your hometown by the way. Best, Yannis.

Wren said...

I made this and it was delish! I used some fresh mint from the garden. It went great with some sirloin done up with salt/pepper, olive oil, and the juice of half a lemon. I figured keep it simple and sort of Greek inspired. Anyways, I just wanted to thank you again Chef John. It's awesome cooking along at home and getting a feel for the why-fores of cooking.

T Gent said...

Where is the olive oil, Chef John?
Also, I think the very traditional, and VERY delicious choice is white pepper all the way!

Lindsay said...

This is almost the same as I make except I add a little dried dill and I also scrape out the seeds before chopping.

My favourite use for tzatziki (and yes, I pronounce it that way - didn't realise it was difficult for some people) is as a chip dip! Low of fat/calories and HUGE on flavour! I prefer this over other chip dips any day!

ℳata said...

too many ways to make tzatziki here in greece. try to cut the cucumber into tiny cubes. it is more refresing this way ;)

Sammie Jung said...

....I somehow messed this and the pita bread up so badly even I don't want to eat it....

Olivia said...

This has to be the yummiest Chacheekee sauce ever. (Hey, if enough of us start calling it that, it's bound to catch on.) I've tried other recipes that were just ok. But this is perfect! Thank you, Chef John!

Jenika said...

This was delicious! Made it tonight and will make again soon!

Aias said...

Great job Chef John,
Allow me to make a few remarks
1.the grater is to small you must use a grater like this http://www.amazon.com/Cuisinart-CTG-00-BG-Boxed-Grater/dp/B004YZENBY
2.no need to peel all the cucumber ,you can leave 2-3 stripes for color
3.you can use a strainer instead a bowl and make your life easier
4.i always put ouzo in tzatziki ,try it!
5.you MUST use olive oil,it will make tzatziki creamy .

thank you!