Greek Dips

Make party dips in Greek style
By Mark Dymiotis ©

Greek dips are widely available from delicatessens but still fairly expensive. So learn to make them yourself.

Dips can be eaten as appetisers or as part of a light meal. Traditionally, they are eaten with bread either on their own or with crisp raw vegetables.

Always use extra virgin olive oil. And Greeks usually prefer to use dry herbs.

All my expert advisers (below) tasted as they worked, adding ingredients as required.

Yoghurt dip – tzatziki
Easy. A summer dip. Let stand an hour in the fridge to develop flavours.

1kg yoghurt, 1 cucumber (or 2 small Lebanese cucumbers), 2-3 large cloves garlic, 2 soup spoons of oil, dry or fresh mint (optional).

Place yoghurt in a cheese-cloth (wet and squeezed dry) and let it drain overnight or for at least 2 hours.

Peel and grate cucumber, squeeze dry or place in a strainer and let it drain. Adding a little salt will speed up the draining.

Peel and chop garlic as finely as you like. Place all ingredients in a bowl. Mix thoroughly with a fork.

Hummus with chick peas
Eaten on bread or with vegetables. Olives are a good accompaniment to this dip.

1 cup chick peas, 2 tablsp fresh tahini, 2 lemons, ½ cup oil, 3-4 cloves garlic.

Soak chick peas overnight. Change water and bring them to the boil.

Lower the heat and cook for 2-3 hours or until soft.

Drain and mash with fork or puree in blender.

Add tahini alternately with lemon juice and oil, a little at a time, and continue mixing. The tahini prevents the dip from thinning. Add garlic and salt to taste – but do not allow them to dominate.

Sprinkle with chopped Italian parsley.

The oil, says Mrs Youla Erevnides, ‘sweetens’ the lemon. The mixture initially should have a puree consistency. It will thicken later on.

Taramosalada
To use bread, breadcrumbs or potatoes? Mrs Chrisoula Karakizos prefers potatoes, and so do I. Mrs Paraskevou Savides uses breadcrumbs while Mrs Olga Pysllos and Mrs Evlogia Agisilaou use 2-3 day-old Vienna bread, crust removed, soaked in water and squeezed dry.

5-6 medium-sized potatoes, mashed, or 1 loaf dried bread, 150g mullet or cod roe, 3-4 cloves garlic or 1 medium onion, grated, 2-3 lemons, 1 cup oil (Mrs Karakizos uses 1½-2 cups), vinegar.

Pound garlic to a paste. Blend mashed potatoes and roe well. A blender is helpful. Add garlic then lemon juice then oil. Add a spoonful vinegar.

The colour should be pale pink and the consistency of slightly runny cream.

Add more potato or roe if the balance is not right. The dip will firm in time.

No salt is needed as roe is very salty. But the use of some salt will make pounding the garlic easier.

Eggplant dip – melitzanosalada
4 medium eggplants, juice 2 lemons, 2-3 spoons oil, 4-5 cloves garlic, Italian parsley and salt to taste.

Fresh and tender eggplants give best results. Place them in a moderately hot oven and allow to bake until soft.

Wrapping them in foil will speed up the baking.

Remove and allow to cool. Peel and drain them. (Mrs Psyllos prefers them unpeeled for better flavor, though darker colour.)

Mash with a fork or in blender. While beating, add lemon juice, oil, garlic, parsley and salt.

Mrs Erevnides adds walnuts to this dip while Mrs Psyllos prefers fetta or ricotta cheese. But do not use salt if fetta cheese is used.

Mark Dymiotis is researching Greek food in Australia.

From: Herald Sun, Wednesday, August 3, 1994 – with minor amendments.

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