With the weather warming up in Turkey, we have naturally changed our dinners to reflect the changing weather. Less on the heavy, hot dishes, more on the light and refreshing. This includes a Persian staple: mast-o khiar – which, if my Farsi is correct, translates to yogurt with cucumbers.
If you’ve ever tasted Greek tzatziki sauce, this is similar but, thanks to the addition of dried mint and dill, (and some really fun toppings), it feels a little more elevated.
Mast-o khiar can be used as a dip for fresh veggies and bread, as a sauce over salad or meat, or eaten straight from the bowl by the spoonful. Persians use yogurt during mealtimes to cool down spicy foods, balance out any richness, and cleanse their palates.
In this recipe, I used a mixture of plain full-fat Greek yogurt and a fat-free yogurt because it’s what I had in my fridge. Although Persian yogurt tastes much different than Greek – my mother-in-law makes her own – I want to keep things simple here. You can use whatever plain yogurt you’d like but a thicker one is best. We’re adding cucumbers, which are pretty watery so the yogurt will thin out a bit anyway.
The addition of dill and mint is a must! If you’d like to go all out and use fresh herbs, go for it (a 3:1 ratio is a good rule of thumb if you’re going to go this route). But I like to keep things easy and accessible so dried works really well here. There are tons of options for toppings (walnuts, raisins, dried rose petals, more dried mint, more fresh cucumber) and really adds to the dish. I’d suggest picking at least two to try.
Mast-o khiar pairs great with my Persian salad and Persian potato patties. There! Make all three and you’ve got yourself a great refreshing meal – not too late to celebrate the Persian New Year, Nowruz.
Persian Yogurt Dip: Mast-o Khiar
1 1/2 cups yogurt
1-2 medium cucumbers, finely diced (you should end up with about 1/2 – 3/4 cup total)
1-2 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 tsp dried dill
1/2 tsp dried mint
Salt and black pepper, to taste
Golden raisins (optional)
Walnuts, chopped (optional)
Dried rose petals (optional)
1. In a mixing bowl, combine yogurt, cucumbers, garlic, dill, mint, salt, and pepper. Mix well.
2. Transfer to a serving dish, if you’re feeling fancy. Sometimes I just mix and serve everything directly from the yogurt container. If you’re not serving right away, keep it refrigerated – it’ll taste even better the longer it sits.
3. Just before serving, add toppings. Yogurt dip can keep in the refrigerator for up to three days.
Other Delicious Recipes:
How to Make Persian Sesame Brittle
How to Make a Simple and Refreshing Persian Salad
How to Make Stuffed Grape Leaves: Persian Dolma (Dolmeh Barge Mo)
Easy Carrot Jam | How to Make Persian “Morabaye Haveej”
How to Make Persian Potato Patties | “Kookoo Sibzamini”
How to Make Persian Chai