Haydari And Chilli Yoghurt – Two Meze Recipes Using A Turkish Staple

Life in Turkey doesn’t happen without yoghurt. Even as a foreigner when you first move here, if you don’t like yoghurt, it’s not like you can just pretend it doesn’t exist. Rather, you’re more likely to be spending your time trying to avoid it – and that’s going to take up quite a lot of your time if you’re out and about a lot. Because yoghurt is everywhere. For us, when we first came to live in Fethiye, it was a case of “if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em.” We didn’t particularly dislike yoghurt; it was just a case of, “What’s all the fuss about?”

Well these days, it’s a rarity there isn’t a big tub of süzme yoghurt from the market in the fridge. We dollop it onto the side of most dishes, we mix it into meals, and we also whip up quick meze dishes with it. For this post, we’ve got a couple of quick yoghurt-based meze recipes for you, and, as with lots of others we’ve mentioned, these are perfect summer meze dishes for your barbecue. Yes, we know it’s not summer yet but we’ve had / are having a very mild winter. We’re enjoying outdoor eating and we’re going minty and spicy for these mezes.

Shepherd Salad With Sumac

Fresh, crisp shepherd’s salad with sumac

And if we’re doing a barbecue, we need a simple salad. A shepherd’s salad goes so well with barbecued food and yoghurt meze.

Yoghurt Preparation

We prepare our yoghurt for both dishes first – and this is all done in minutes. We used to wonder why, when we went to friends’ houses for meals or to certain restaurants, the yoghurt dishes often tasted slightly different to the ones we made at home; more rich and smooth. Well, this is why:

As usual, quantities are haphazard here – it’s down to your own taste. Generally, if we’re doing a barbecue, we’ll roughly divide 500g of süzme yoghurt three ways: a third of it will remain plain and the other two thirds can be added to a bowl ready to make your two meze dishes.


Haydari – garlic yoghurt with herbs

We’re going to be making a classic haydari meze – we challenge you to find a Turkish restaurant that doesn’t have haydari as part of its meze display. Haydari is just a fact of life in Turkey.

Turkish Meze Dishes - Chilli Yoghurt

Chilli yoghurt, Cin Bal style

And we’re also going to be making a chilli yoghurt. Now, this is just one of those dishes that is an essential for us. When we first came to Fethiye on holiday in 1998, we were taken to Cin Bal in Kayaköy by our new found friends. At the time, Cin Bal was nothing more than a shed with sheep hanging up – obviously, we wondered what the heck we’d come to and left all the ordering to them. This was one of the yoghurts that arrived – it was a first introduction to a world where yoghurt wasn’t over-sweetened strawberry flavour – and we just fell in love with it. We still order it to this day – and we make it for our own barbecues, too.

Turkish Recipes For Haydari And Chilli Yoghurt

  • Add two thirds of your yoghurt to a bowl.
  • Crush or finely grate 1 large clove of garlic and add that to the yoghurt along with a small pinch of salt.
  • Add the juice of half a fresh lemon.
  • Now for the rich, smooth part – and this is optional. Add a small glug of olive oil and a dessert spoonful of mayonnaise (traditional haydari does’t have mayonnaise but this is a tip from a Turkish friend whose cooking we love).
  • Give it all a good stir and do a taste test.
  • Now divide your yoghurt mixture between two bowls. For the haydari, add a generous sprinkling of dried mint (some people add dill or purslane – we use whatever we’ve got in the house).
  • For the chilli yoghurt – simple – a good dousing of hot chilli powder and mix, mix, mix until your yoghurt turns pink. If you make this a while before, your yoghurt will take on more colour.
Haydari, chilli yoghurt and hummus

Haydari, chilli yoghurt and hummus

And that’s it. Two quick Turkish recipes made from yoghurt – haydari and chilli yoghurt. Yoghurt meze dishes just compliment all grilled meats (especially lamb) so beautifully. You can drizzle extra olive oil over the top of your haydari before serving if you’re feeling indulgent. Add the dishes to the rest of your meze collection (if you want to make that yummy looking hummus in the photo, click here to see our recipe for hummus), barbecue your meat, dress your salad and…

Afiyet Olsun!

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  1. Delicious! Yoghurt works so well in mezzes, isn’t it, love it with its refreshing taste – and the heat from pul biber 🙂

  2. Mmmm… This looks delicious, I can personally vouch for your haydari and hummus! and this chilli one is right up our street too. Still using those fab earthenware pots wish I still had mine, love them. x

  3. So easy. Can’t wait to wow someone when I produce these two!

  4. Oh gosh these look good! 🙂 My friend gave me yogurt starter recently and I can’t wait to make my own. I will love using some of it for these dishes. 🙂

  5. Yoghurt as a savoury, not a sweet, is so good. Good as a sweet, too, of course. 🙂

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