Tarator or Taratur, is a traditional Balkan dish. It is a cold soup (or a liquid salad), popular in the summertime in Albania, Armenia, Bulgaria, the Republic of Macedonia, southeastern Serbia, Turkey, Azerbaijan, Iraq, Iran, Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Israel, Palestine, Armenia and in Cyprus (where it is known as Ttalattouri). It is made of yoghurt, cucumber, garlic, walnut, dill, vegetable oil, and water, and is served chilled or even with ice. Local variations may replace yoghurt with water and vinegar, omit nuts or dill, or add bread. The cucumbers may on rare occasions be replaced with lettuce or carrots.
In Bulgaria, tarator is a popular meze (appetiser) but also served as aside dish along with Shopska Salad with most meals. Sunflower and olive oil are more commonly used and walnut is sometimes omitted. Tarator is seasoned with garlic and dill both of which can be omitted if so desired. Tarator is a popular dish in Bulgaria. A salad version of tarator is known as “Snow white salad” – ( “salata Snezhanka” or “Snejanka” ), also called Dry Tarator. It is made of thick (strained) yoghurt, without water. It can be served as an appetiser or as a side to the main meal. It is a common refresher during the summer.
In Greece, a similar meal is known as tzatziki. Tzatziki usually contains olive oil, parsley and mint in addition to the standard ingredients. The word used for the Cypriot variant, ttalattouri, derives from the word tarator via Persian.
A similar dish in Iran is called Ab-Doogh-Khiar which contains salt, basil, leek, mint, black pepper, raisins, and ice. In this style, sometimes dried bread chip is also put in the dish just before serving the dish. Similar to cereal, dried bread chips must remain crisp in some styles.
Tarator is a popular salad and dip in Serbia rather than a soup; it is also known as “tarator salata”. It is made with yoghurt, sliced cucumber and diced garlic, and served cold.
In Turkish cuisine, “tarator” is a dip sauce generally eaten with fried fish and squid. The sauce includes white breadcrumbs, walnuts, lemon juice or vinegar, salt, pepper, garlic, herbs and yoghurt. One Turkish version using the name, tahinli tarator, is a similar dish specifically containing tahini or sesame. In the coastal towns of Turkey, fried squid or mussels are almost always served with tarator sauce.
In Macedonia, tarator or taratur is made with garlic, soured milk, cucumber, sunflower oil and salt. It is garnished with dill and served either room temperature or chilled (sometimes by adding ice cubes).
Tarator - Traditional Yoghurt Cold Soup
- 1 long cucumber (chopped or grated (we prefer it peeled))
- 1 garlic clove (minced or crushed)
- 4 cups plain yoghurt
- 1 cup water
- 1 teaspoon salt (to taste)
- 1 tablespoon fresh dill (finely chopped)
- 4 pecans (finely chopped or crushed)
- 3 teaspoons olive oil
- Put all the ingredients together and mix well. When ready garnish with olive oil. This cold soup is best when served chilled.