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