Nigel Slater's classic tzatziki recipe

The recipe

Cucumber
Olive oil
Yogurt (preferably goat's or sheep's, strained)
Crushed garlic
Dill or mint
Lemon juice
A little salt

Made from two or three ingredients, this Greek recipe is easier to make than it is to spell and sometimes appears as tzadziki or tsatsiki. If it doesn't appear with your holiday mezze and a plate of warm pitta with which to scoop it up, it will come as a sauce for your souvlaki or your meat. You will find it in Turkey and Cyprus, and elsewhere with local alterations. The yogurt is usually goat's or sheep's and is of the strained variety. Once the basics of chopped or grated cucumber, olive oil and yogurt have been established it is up to the cook to season it with garlic, lemon juice, mint or dill. Peel a cucumber, cut it in half and remove the seeds. Finely chop it and leave it in a colander with a little salt until it has given up some of its juice. Pat the cucumber dry with kitchen towels then fold into a little olive oil and 250g strained yogurt. Season with a crushed clove of garlic and a little dill or chopped mint leaves and a squeeze of lemon juice.

The trick
Chopping a cucumber and stirring it directly into yogurt will not give you tzatziki. It is essential that the seeds are removed, as they will change the texture of the sauce. Salting the cucumber not only stops the sauce from becoming thin and watery, it greatly affects the flavour. Whether you grate or chop, you should not skip this step. Before strained yogurt was widely available, it was necessary to strain your yogurt through a muslin, but now thick-style is available. And although leaving it for too long in the fridge is not recommended, half an hour or so will allow the flavours to marry.

The twist
Too little is made of this recipe as a sauce. It is a cracking accompaniment for grilled lamb chops. I occasionally toss in a little grated lemon zest or some finely sliced spring onions, making it more of a salad than a sauce. You can use it as a refreshing dressing for a salad, too, for cold chicken or salmon. A favourite wheeze last summer was to use it to dress a salad of smoked mackerel and fennel. Try it, too, with flashes of finely hashed red chilli.

Email Nigel at nigel.slater@observer.co.uk or visit guardian.co.uk/profile/nigelslater for all his recipes in one place

Thanks to guardian.co.uk who have provided this article. View the original here.