Taste Scene

Michael Devlin

Humdinger tzatziki

Tantalising... Cool tzatziki tastes so good.

Tantalising… Cool tzatziki tastes so good.

I ate the best kebab of my life last Saturday night in Dublin.

Punchy, balanced, with succulent chicken and cool tzatziki – it was so spectacular, I even considered breaking into the place the next morning and concocting another.

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Certainly, if it had been open I’d have scoffed at least one more kebab for breakfast.

The place in question was Zaytoon, a Persian restaurant at the tail-end of Temple Bar.

Me and a friend had shuffled in after the beer had stopped working and before calling it a night. It was 10 in the evening and Zaytoon was already an assault for the senses.

With a near-constant cacophony of shouted orders, the smell emanating from the place was tantalising enough until you stepped through the doors and watched the cooks behind the counter blasting chicken in tandoor-like ovens and carving all the charred best bits off a huge stack of kebab meat.

I couldn’t wait to get stuck in.

I was surprised to note too, that our chicken doner kebabs were assembled much like a regular pizza, a warm flatbread topped with hot sauce, mixed vegetables (tomatoes, cucumber etc), tender meat, tzatziki and fresh herbs before being casually wrapped and laid out onto plates.

After immediately attacking the kebabs in silent wonder, it didn’t take long for me to realise this was a special experience.

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Every single ingredient had a role and they all bound together to make for such a satisfying and sensational meal. In short, it was the Humdinger Kebab.

Until Saturday night though, I didn’t really appreciate the role tzatziki has to play in kebabs.

Maybe previous tzatzikis have simply been lacking but this one was different. It provided the much needed lubrication without skimping on taste.

Where the hot sauce was sharp and the chicken marinated and spicy, the yoghurt mix added some coolness and calm. It was the vital counterpoint to the whole zingy, meaty meal.

With this in mind, I set about making my very own tzatziki at home and what do you know? It’s deadly stuff.

Great as a dip for any kind of left-over meats or falafel or even crisps, it also works wonders on a sandwich.

INGREDIENTS

1 cucumber
1 fat clove of garlic, minced
2 tbsps of extra virgin olive oil
1 tub of Greek yoghurt
juice of half a lemon
half tsp of smoked paprika
handful of mint leaves, finely chopped
sea salt and black pepper

THE PLAN

  • First add the minced garlic to the olive oil.
  • This is supposed to mellow out the spikiness and it should be done an hour ahead of time. I make do with it being the first task on the agenda.
  • Next cut the cucumber in half and scrap out all the seeds. This is to cut down on water content. 
  • Grate the two halves into a clean tea towel, wrap up tight and squeeze out all the liquid.
  • Traditionally, you’re supposed to sprinkle the grated cucumber with salt and let the water leech out. But last I checked, this isn’t Greece and life’s too short.
  • Combine the cucumber, yoghurt, lemon juice, garlic/oil and chopped mint and mix together.
  • Season with the salt and pepper. It may also need another touch of lemon juice.
  • Retire to a clean bowl and sprinkle with the smoked paprika and a tiny drizzle of more oil.
  • Cover and allow the flavours to mature for at least an hour.

The schizzle!

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