I grew up eating tarator during a lot of summer nights in my native country. It’s a refreshing cold soup made with yogurt, cucumber, dill, salt and garlic. In Albania we didn’t call it cold soup, but I don’t know how else to describe it.
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What Is Tarator?
Tarator is an Albanian cold cucumber soup made with cucumber, dill and yogurt. Bulgaria has a similar version of Tarator as Albania. But in Turkey, Tarator means a different dish which is made with walnuts, garlic and bread. In Hungary they also have a similar version to the Albanian one, just ingredients vary slightly.
The simplest way to serve this cold soup is with some feta cheese and fresh bread. Then you can add additional fruits and finger food like olives, nuts, pita bread, hummus etc.
When I first served this yogurt cold soup to my friends or my husband, they confused it with tzatziki which is a greek sauce made with similar ingredients. The biggest difference is that tarator is made with yogurt while tzakiki is made with strained yogurt. Also, one is a soup and the other a dip.
How Do You Make Tarator?
Tarator is very easy to make, it has few ingredients and you don’t need accuracy in mixing them up. Just mix to taste, however I’ll still add the recipe at the bottom for you to use as a guide. The biggest difficulty I had in making tarator was finding the right type of yogurt.
When I lived in Albania, we had fresh milk delivered daily to our house every morning. We boiled the milk, drank during the day and made the left overs yogurt. So the type of yogurt we made at home, I can’t quite find it here in the grocery stores. The closest I have come to find in flavor is Greek Yogurt.
Greek yogurt is a bit thicker than the yogurt we made back in Albania at home. So in order to achieve the exact consistency of tarator, I add some water to the soup but in Albania no water is needed. I’m trying to explain the correct steps for everyone in my audience.
See below two examples of how I served this dish for my family.
Tarator – Cold Cucumber Soup Recipe
My paternal grandfather had an old wooden mortar & pestle similar to the one below. He used to smash the garlic and salt together. Then he used to chop the cucumber in small pieces and put them inside the mortar & pestle (it was a decent size one). Later on he would mix the smashed garlic-salt with the cucumber pieces so the flavors would mix very well together. At last, he would pour this mix over yogurt and add olive oil and dill. Mix well and tarator was served. He did this until well in his 80s!!
Tarator – Albanian Cold Cucumber & Yogurt Soup
- 32 oz greek yogurt
- 1 english cucumber
- 2 garlic cloves
- 2 tbsp chopped dill
- 2-3 tbsp olive oil
- 0.5 cup water optional
- Chop cucumber in small pieaces. Mince the garlic and chop the dill as well.
- Pour yogurt in a salad bowl and add all the chopped ingredients.
- Add olive oil and mix everything very well.
- In a mortar & pestle, smash the minced garlic with salt then add those on top of the yogurt.
- If you like the consistency of the soup to be thinner, then add half a cup of water and mix again. Yogurt consistency varies from brand to brand, so the amount of water you add is up to you.
- Serve with feta cheese, bread, fruits and other finger foods of choice.
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Other Yogurt Recipes:
I like incorporating yogurt in a lot of my recipes, see below some of my favorites:
- Chia, hemp hearts, fruits yogurt breakfast
- Lamb, yogurt bake (Albanian Tave Kosi)
- Puffed Quinoa, fruits, yogurt breakfast
Excuse me, but could you actually prove this is an Albanian dish? We have tarator in Bulgaria and we believe its our typical dish 🙂
– we use Bulgarian yoghurt, cucumbers,water, salt, dill, garlic and walnuts along with dash of sunflower oil and you can eat it howl or drink it (depending how u slice the cucumber)
Hi Ivo, many Balkan countries have similar dishes, tarator is one of them. We all share years of Ottoman wars and occupation which led to fusion in cuisines. There are many dishes from tarator to moussaka, to baklava and many others that we all call the same but each of us makes it our own way. My paternal grandfather was born in 1906 in South of Albania and he remembers his family making tarator during summer time. Most Albanian families serve tarator with dinner in summer! To us it’s Albanian, to you guys it’s Bulgarian!! We make it with homemade yogurt, cucumbers, dill, garlic and good quality olive oil. No walnuts or sunflower oil for us. Have a great day!
We have a simmilar dish in Poland with beets
Aww I’m always curious about different cuisines and recipes. I’ll definitely look it up:)). Thank you
Great post .. love the recipes. Thanks for sharing
I’ve never tried tarator before. I’ll have to give that a try later this week. Thanks for sharing.
Hope you like it!! Eat on a hot day, you’ll appreciate it so much more:)
This looks so yum! I’ve never tried any cold soup so I am definitely going to try it!
Other Eastern European countries add walnuts on top so if that’s something you like, you can add walnuts too.
Yummy! This is quite unique and inviting. My spouse will appreciate this. Thanks for sharing
I will try it
This is a great recipe. In my country we have something similar known as raita made from yoghurt, we consume it in the summer days to keep the body cool. But this was really something new. Enjoyed reading it!
Thank you:). I was hesitant to post something that is not well known where I live now but it makes me happy to see so many people like this version or another version of this dish. Yes, that is the main purpose of the dish: cooling off especially on hot summer days. A lot of the houses didn’t have air conditioning so this was perfect for a hot day.
For a person like me who has a high body temp and generally a lot of heat inside the body such a dish acts as a cooling agent…already love yoghurt..so this is like a cooling agent recipe of sorts!
Thank you Vaibhav!! The dish is vegetarian too:)
This looks absolutely delicious. It’s lovely that you can have a taste of home.
So this soup is more like a dip???? It looks yummy. Your photos are great. This looks like a great healthy alternative to a high-fat cheesy tailgate dip. Thanks for offering something really unique.
In my native country we eat this more like a soup. Our yogurt there is a bit thinner but similar in taste to Greek Yogurt, so there we don’t add water to it and it still has soup consistency. Here in US i use greek yogurt and it almost comes out like a dip because Greek Yogurt is so thick, so here i add a bit of water to make it like a cold soup but if i want to use it as a dip for get togethers then I don’t add water and it’s great for dipping with pita bread or your choice of chips. Thank you:)
Nicole B. W.
Made my mouth water just looking at the pictures!!!!
Thanks for sharing the recipes!!! :))
Thank you so much Nicole!!
This is amazing. Great recipe. Thanks for sharing 😀