Pera Za’atar-roasted Aubergine with Cacık, a Turkish Yoghurt Dip

Life in Turkey doesn’t happen without yoghurt. Indeed it is one of the most important components of the modern Turkish diet and there is rarely a table where it isn’t featured in some form or other; as part of a main dish, a condiment, a chilled soup, in a dessert or even as a drink – ayran, a refreshing blend of plain yogurt, ice-cold water and salt. On Tuesdays, our suppers consist of various small plates of salads, rice dishes, hummus and – this week – these za’atar-roasted aubergines with pomegranate and a yoghurt-based condiment that is designed to cut through the rainbow of flavours. The yoghurt is bought by the litre from our local Arabic grocery store and mixed up with whatever I have at home including fresh and dried herbs, garlic, lemon and various spices. There’s a Turkish proverb that states that ‘every man has his own style of eating yoghurt’ meaning that others may have a different way of doing things so we must always practice acceptance.

Ingredients

250g good quality Turkish yoghurt
Half a cucumber, peeled, deseeded and cut into tiny cubes
1 lemon, zested and juiced
1 garlic clove, peeled and finely chopped
1tsp of dried mint
2 tsp of pul biber
2 tbsp finely chopped fresh mint leaves
2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to your taste

How I make it

Mix together the yoghurt, the cucumber, the lemon zest and a tablespoon of the juice, the garlic, the mint and half of the pul biber, mint leaves and olive oil. Season to taste and chill in the fridge for at least two hours.

Turn out into a bowl and garnish with the remaining pul biber, mint leaves and olive oil.

For more interesting facts about the history of yoghurt and why it is revered by different cultures, I recommend that you read ‘Yoghurt, A Global History’ by June Hersh which we are delighted to offer you at a 20% discount. Follow the links below and enter the code YOGHURT21:

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