Tsatsiki and beef kebabs


I found a yellowed newspaper clipping that I’d ripped out in the summer of 1997 – a recipe for tsatsiki that been meaning to get round to for 12 years!

I studied in Germany for  a year in 1996 and was fortunate to be invited to join in with my landlord’s family barbecues. I still think Bratwurst are just about the best thing in the world to cook on a bbq and it was also my first taste of this brilliant Greek sauce or dip which goes so well with grilled meat. Which I guess is why I spotted this recipe in what I think looks like the Telegraph.

It only needs about 5 minutes’ prep and I made some quick beef kebabs to go with it, although I’m going to do it again next time I cook burgers or sausages.

First roughly grate about six inches of cucumber into a bowl. Sprinkle over a good pinch of salt and leave it for 20 minutes – the salt draws out the water from the cucumber so that it’s not soggy in the sauce.

Once 20 mins are up, you need to squeeze out the liquid. Take handfuls of the cucumber at a time and squeeze as much water out as you can. Put the cucumber back into a clean bowl. Add a smooshed up clove of garlic, about a tablespoon of chopped mint leaves (or a teaspoon of dried mint), salt and pepper and a pot of natural/Greek style yoghurt (250g pot, I think but anything between 200 and 300 will probably work ok). Stir this all together and pour in a tablespoon of olive oil as you stir.

To go with the sauce I made some curried beef kebabs – like shami kebab patties as I was cooking on the griddle, but you could always shape them round skewers for the grill or bbq.

Simplicity itself to make. To a bowl of lean mince, I added about four teaspoons of chat spice mix (cos I spotted it in Tesco and the name amused me in a highly juvenile way) and a squeeze of lemon juice. Get your hands in to mix the spice and meat together then pinch off a small amount, fry it quickly and taste. You may need more spice, or if you can taste the spice but it’s a bit bland, add more salt. Once you’re happy, form them into small patties or round skewers and cook for about 15 mins until they’re done all the way through.

Other spice mixes which work well are jerk/Jamaican all purpose seasoning, garam masala, good madras curry powder or make your own – dry fry a teaspoon of cumin seed, corriander seed, black peppercorns and dried chilli flakes, add salt and grind in a pestle and mortar.

The next time I’m stuck for an idea to liven up a midweek pork chop or a bit of grilled fish I’m going to try this tsatsiki just because it adds a lively, fresh zing to the meal.

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Categories: Beef lamb and pork, Speedy, Student, Summer, Veggie


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