|cacik (turkish cucumber, herb and yoghurt sauce)|
I used to go to a Turkish deli near where I worked to pick up a salad box for lunch. The deli had a beautiful selection of delicious seasonal and classic salads as well as mezze. If I went for the 3-salad option, it was always I bit of no-brainer. Kisir, a spinach, walnut and feta salad, and roasted sweet peppers or a spiced chickpea salad. If I went for the 5-salad option, I had to try something new. I could fall back on my favourite standbys such as dolma or a fragrant tomato salad, but I felt as if I should always try at least one thing each week that was new. That way I managed to work my way through their entire, ever-changing and seasonal menu.
This is why I had left cacik until more-or-less last. Yoghurt and cucumber with a few herbs? It wasn't rocking my world. But I was wrong. How wrong, I was! The deli's cooling cacik was gorgeous - a thick, creamy yoghurt perfumed with dill and mint, and studded with small chunks of thin-skinned Turkish cucumbers.
Use Turkish dried mint rather than fresh. Fresh mint turns the yoghurt sauce bitter and an unappetising colour after prolonged exposure.
I am very fond of cacik as an accompaniment to roast lamb, lamb meatballs or with salads such as couscous and kisir. It's rather good in a smoked salmon sandwich too!
Skill level: Easy
2 x small Turkish cucumbers
450ml natural yogurt
1½ tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp dried mint
1-2 x garlic cloves, very finely chopped
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1-2 tbsp fresh dill, roughly chopped
a few pinches of Aleppo peppers or chilli flakes, to serve (optional)
fresh dill, to serve
- Make the cacik by cutting the cucumbers in half lengthways and then scrape out the seeds with a teaspoon. Finely chop the cucumbers. (If the cacik is going to be made some time in advance, you can if you choose salt the cucumbers by sprinkling over ½ tsp salt. Leave to drain for 30 minutes. Rinse the cucumber then pat dry with paper kitchen towel.)
- Mix the chopped cucumbers with the dried mint, half the olive oil and chopped garlic.
- Add the yoghurt and combine well. If the yoghurt is particularly thick, then you may want to thin out the sauce with a little cold water.
- Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Refrigerate before serving.
- Before serving, drizzle over the rest of the olive oil, sprinkle with a few Aleppo pepper flakes and chopped fresh dill.