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That Yogurt Sauce You Find at EVERY Mediterranean Restaurant

So after a week of pureed fruits and vegetables, I’m SUPER bored! Believe it or not, the food blogger that prides herself in daily green smoothies has grown tired of her own concoctions. I decided to pull out an oldie, but goodie recipe.

Who hasn’t eaten at a Mediterranean restaurant by now? If you haven’t please look in the upper right hand of your computer screen. That little red box with an X? Click it. Now. Because there is such a high population of Persians and Middle Easterners in the DC area, it’s not uncommon to find many restaurants carrying this style of Middle Eastern/Mediterranean cuisine.

Whether you’re ordering kabob, a gyro, a curry, or a mezze platter, there’s no doubt you’ll be served a little side of a smooth, salty, and delicious yogurt sauce. This sauce adds a cool note to the rich, hearty, and sometimes spicy dishes you taste. Called tzatziki to the Greeks, raita in Hindi, and maast-o khiar in Farsi, in a way this sauce unites all the cultures and cuisines stretching from Greece to India.

Why Eating Yogurt is Awesome

Did you know it wasn’t until the 1970’s that yogurt became part of the Western diet? My own mother raves about when she first attended college, and yogurt was to her what hummus currently is to every collegiate female. In case you’re still not on the yogurt band wagon, here are three reasons why you should start consuming yogurt NOW:

  • Probiotics–Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock, you’ve surely heard about probiotics and why they’re so important for good health. These friendly bacteria are actually good for you, helping to build up a healthy intestinal flora that promotes digestions and fights disease. Even if you’re lactose intolerant or have a dairy allergy, definitely invest in a probiotic supplement.
  • Calcium–In the 90’s it seems like everyone was shoving calcium down each others’ throats. Calcium was thought to help with bone mass, with weight loss, with lung function. It’s not that calcium isn’t important, it’s just that you need other minerals and nutrients other than calcium to be healthy. Still, if you’re someone that’s monitoring their calcium intake, yogurt is a great place to start.
  • Protein–This is true especially if you buy Greek yogurt. Yogurt is a rich source of protein, making it a great post-workout recovery snack. If you need something fast and quick after exercising, go for yogurt.

One final tip of advice. If you can, opt for plain yogurt. Most sweetened or fruit yogurts have way too much sugar, or use a lot of artificial sweeteners. If the thought of plain yogurt sounds too…plain for you, add fresh/frozen fruit and a drizzle of raw honey. This way, you’re in control of how sweet it is.

How DO They Make That Yogurt Sauce?

Okay, now for the good part. The yogurt sauce you eat at all these restaurants is surprisingly easy to make. Every restaurant/region has their own version. Today, I’m sharing with you the Persian version that I grew up with as a child. Feel free to make any adjustments for your own version of this yummy yogurt sauce.

Maast-o Khiyar (Persian Yogurt Sauce with Cucumber)

Makes 1 cup

1 small cucumber, peeled and grated

1 cup plain yogurt

Salt and pepper to taste

1-2 tsp dried mint

1/2 tsp ground thyme

1/2 tsp dried rose petals (optional)

 

Directions

1. Mix all ingredients together. If you’d like, sprinkle more rose petals and mint on top as a garnish.

yogurt sauce retouched

 

You are also welcome to make several variations of this dish. Some like to add raisins for a play on sweet and savory. Others add walnuts or pomegranates for some crunch. You can also dice the cucumber if that tastes better for you. Hope everyone enjoys this post! Enjoy!

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