Another family recipe, courtesy of my Mum and Dad! Their tzatziki ‘recipe’ (it’s in their hearts and hands, not on paper) uses Greek dairy yoghurt and for a long time I held off making a vegan version because when I veganise family recipes, I prefer to use ingredients that result in an almost identical tasting match to the not-vegan version of my youth. Coconut yoghurt was immediately ruled out because, well, it ends up like a coconutty tasting thing and not at all like my family’s dish. Cashew cream ends up too sweet. Silken tofu would have the tofu after taste. Right?
Well, I think I was a bit harsh on the old silken tofu. Today I decided to go for it and see how it would taste and boy am I pleasantly surprised. I do like my tzatziki heavy on the garlic and lemon and that does help mask any soy flavour. Still, I couldn’t detect a strong soy taste like I feared and so I’ve been fist pumping around the place, waiting to see my parents so I can get them to try this.
So when my parents make this, they break out the big guns and by that I mean their big huge Greek mortar and pestle. The thing that will break your toes if you drop it on your foot. Mum and Dad put peeled garlic gloves in the mortar with salt, then pound away with the pestle. The salt prevents the mashed garlic from flying out everywhere. Family events always involved the banging sounds of mortar and pestle the day before, while Mum got the tzatziki prepared. Before the days of less watery Greek yoghurt being sold in supermarkets, Mum would hang an old pillowcase of yoghurt over the sink and let it drain.
I don’t have a mortar and pestle, so I used a microplane for my garlic. You can also use a garlic press if you prefer, though it should be as close to mashed-like as possible.
For the cucumber, Mum and Dad always use Lebanese cucumbers that have been peeled, cut lengthwise and the seeds scooped out with a spoon, then excess liquid squeezed out. If they can’t find Lebanese, they use regular cucumbers. The cucumber is always grated, never chopped. Ha, they snort and shake their heads when they see TV chefs making tzatziki with massive chunks of cucumber!
For us, the flavour always comes from the garlic, lemon and extra virgin olive oil. Mum and Dad have never used herbs. Some people like dill, others use mint. Feel free to add those in if you like. I enjoy the tastes of herbs, but I enjoy my parents’ tzatziki without them because this is what I grew up with and faffing around with the flavours kinda feels wrong when it’s a much loved family recipe!
This is a medium-ish serving but I only say that because Mum and Dad make a huge amount, so this amount seems wee in comparison. I wanted to base my recipe on a 300g block of silken tofu.
I would recommend that you keep this in the bowl you prepared it in (in the fridge), then if you’re going to serve it give it a good stir and put it in a nice bowl. In terms of how it compares to the dairy version, you can see in the photo the colour is more yellowy than white but taste wise? This tastes exactly like what my Mum and Dad make. I watched them making tzatziki many, many times so the process is pretty automatic for me and I’m super happy there’s no big strong tofu taste. I wonder if that depends on the brand of tofu, perhaps some are more soy tasting than others. I used Earth Source Japanese style silken tofu.