I grew up eating maast o khiar (direct translation: yogurt and cucumber) as a side dish, alongside many a Persian meal at home. It’s a beloved little yogurt dish made in many Middle Eastern and Mediterranean countries and it’s no wonder it has massively grown in popularity here in the West with the wildfire spread of tzatziki—you know, that yummy sauce you enjoy with every bite of a good and juicy gyro! Who doesn’t love that stuff? I always ask for more, just to be safe.
But for whatever reason, it took a few years of eating gyros to realize that the sauce in there was really, none other but what I ate practically every other day for my whole life. Tzatziki, maast o khiar, cacik, cucumber laban, or cucumber dill yogurt—it doesn’t matter what you call it. Let’s just share in the tastiness, the tanginess, and the brightness of this lovely treat.
Recipes for cucumber dill yogurt can differ country to country, even family to family. In fact, even within a family too, as I’ve just found out by calling up my mom to see what exactly she adds to hers. So I guess she and I make ours slightly differently because she oftentimes adds dried mint and sometimes dried Persian rose. I make mine without the mint and rose, but I add garlic. Not like they’re substitutes for one another—obviously, it’s just a different taste. Some Persian folks add walnuts and raisins. It’s whatever your heart, tummy, and taste buds desire! And listen, I don’t turn my back to garlic so…
It’s going into my maast o khiaar!
So, I’ve been making this stuff by the trough lately because I’m on a wrap kick for weekday work lunches and what I do is spread this stuff onto bread, add the rest of the sandwich fixin’s, and I’m set for my day. Thanks to the maast o khiaar, I get SO excited for lunch, before I’ve even tasted my breakfast.
And the truth is, I used to dread weekday work lunches because unless I’m eating leftovers, I’m thoroughly disappointed with anything I find to eat. My stomach will be rumbling but I’ll still be grumbling about how I can’t find anything good to eat.
I’ll search high and low for a good while, thinking, “I’m going to get something REALLY good this time!” I’ll eat it, then I’ll be really annoyed that it sucked, I’ll try and erase the memory and taste of lunch by eating a mini Milky Way that I stole from the Pathology office chocolate jar, and I’ll walk back to the lab thinking, “Mmmm, what’s for dinner?”
I really hate wasting a lunch to a subpar meal…
But now I’m stuck on this wrap deal and I’m in love with using maast o khiar as the condiment. And also, I tend to really get sick of mayo and mustard if I eat them too often.
And I just got an image of myself holding up a big huge spoon in each hand, mustard in one spoon, mayo in the other, and I’m just going to town, devouring it all. That’s disgusting. It made me completely nauseous. I don’t do that.
So I hope you’re still here and not all grossed out because I really, really think you’ll love this cucumber dill yogurt.
Hooray! You’re still here because you love
me cucumber dill yogurt!
Cucumber Dill Yogurt Dip (Maast o Khiaar)
- 2 cups full-fat Greek yogurt
- 2 Persian cucumbers cut lengthwise into fourths and minced
- 2 tbsp fresh dill with stems discarded about 1 handful, minced (or 1 tbsp dried dill)
- ¾ tsp sea salt
- ½ tsp black pepper
- ¾ tsp garlic powder
- Place cucumbers in a clean dish towel or paper towel and gently squeeze out any liquid.
- Add yogurt to a small-medium mixing bowl and mix in cucumbers and all the rest of the ingredients.
- Serve as a side dish to your meal, use as a salad dressing, a dip, or a spread for sandwiches. Enjoy!