Since 5,000 BC. That’s how long natural yoghurt is said to have been a part of people’s lives; at least in the region of ancient Mesopotamia, that is. And that includes parts of modern day Turkey. If you know Turkey, you’ll know there’s a whole raft of meze dishes that celebrate the wonder food that is yoghurt. Perhaps the most famous of these is cacık (pronounced somewhere between ja-jick and ja-jerk).
Cacık – A Refreshing Yoghurt & Cucumber Dip
Cacık can be enjoyed in different ways. It can be one of the dishes that make up your meze table – a thick, creamy yoghurt and cucumber dip to be mopped up with crusty bread.
Thinned out and watered right down, Turkish cacık can also be a cooling refresher. Served icy cold in a separate bowl, cacık can be enjoyed as a summer ‘soup’ that soothes and refreshes both during and after a meal.
What better on a hot sunny day than the pairing of ice cold, soupy yoghurt and cucumber?
Over the years, we’ve eaten cacık in its various forms. And now, when we make it at home, we have our own cacık recipe. Everyone prefers their own way with added extra ingredients – or not.
The two certains in Turkish cacık, however, are the yoghurt and the cucumber. The rest is personal preference.
Our Cacık Recipe
So, how do we make cacık? Well, there’s a bit of extra cucumber prep for us.
The Cucumber Part Of The Cacık
It’s completely fine to simply wash and roughly chop it. Depending on the texture you prefer, you could leave your cucumber in large chunks or you can grate it.
You will also notice that we remove the skin and the seeds in the centre of the cucumber. This is because Barry and cucumbers don’t get along too well and the skin and the seeds are oft said to be the main culprits. And, removal makes for a more uniform texture in the cacık dip, too.
These days, growers are growing and selling ‘burpless’ cucumbers. The cucurbitacin content of cucumbers is what causes some people to develop indigestion from cucumbers and, for ‘burpless’ cucumbers, this is reduced in the growing process.
Whatever the case, Turkish cucumbers are often sweet with thin skins and few seeds – we just like to play it safe. This is especially the case in with the seasonal springtime ‘badem’ cucumbers.
Either way, once they have been immersed into the yoghurt and other ingredients, problem solved.
The Yoghurt Part Of Our Cacık Recipe
We always have süzme yoghurt in our house. This is the thick strained yoghurt that is just so smooth and creamy. When we make cacık, we water it down ever so slightly so that it is the texture you can see in the photo above.
For a more velvety texture, we also add a glug of olive oil. And then grated garlic. We can’t not have garlic in our cacık.
This one is divisive. We agree with the Turks who think garlic is a must. Many others will say, no, no garlic. (Wonder if that’s a similar divide to the 49%-51% in the great ‘to onion or not to onion’ debate when you make menemen.)
And then, for that extra bit of refreshment, we add dried mint and lemon juice.
Our Recipe for Cacık
Right, let’s make cacık…
Cacık Recipe - Refreshing Yoghurt & Cucumber Dip
- 6 heaped dessert spoonfuls natural yoghurt
- 1 cucumber peeled, centre removed & very finely chopped
- 1 clove garlic peeled & grated
- 1 lemon juiced
- 2 dessert spoonfuls olive oil
- ½ tsp dried mint plus a bit extra to garnish
- 2 dessert spoonfuls water approx.
- salt to season
- Add your yoghurt to a large bowl.
- Add a tiny splash of water to your yoghurt and stir vigorously until it is mixed.
- Keep adding the water a little at a time and stirring until your yoghurt is the thickness you want.
- Now add half the olive oil and stir again until it is mixed and the yoghurt is smooth.
- Add your lemon juice and mix thoroughly.
- Now stir in your garlic and mint.
- Add your cucumber to the yoghurt dip and stir.
- Do a taste test and add a pinch of salt. You can also add more mint or lemon at this stage to suit your taste.
- Before serving, if you like, you can add a bit more dried mint to the surface of your cacık along with a drizzle more olive oil
- As with all of our recipes, the calorie count for our Turkish cacık recipe is approximate. Yours will differ depending on yoghurt brands and how much cacık you make.
- If you can't get Turkish yoghurt where you live, Greek yoghurt is fine.
- You can add as much or as little water as you like to make your cacık become a creamy yoghurt & cucumber dip or a refreshing cold 'soup.'
And that’s it. Completely simple. A creamy yoghurt and cucumber dip for all seasons…but even more wonderfully tasty and refreshing in the summer heat.
Serving Your Cacık
If you like, you can garnish your cacık to make it look pretty when you serve it. Cacık served with kuzu pirzola (lamb chops) is a perfect combination. Other grilled meats are great, too.
Or, if you’re having a night in in front of the TV, get yourself some breadsticks, tortilla chips – or celery and carrot sticks if you’re being healthy – and use your cacık as a tasty, moreish yoghurt and cucumber dip.
Turkish Cacık – Afternotes
- If you like, you can also add a little bit of chopped dill to your cacık. Whilst we love dill, we prefer to leave it out of this particular dish.
- We do, however, like to add dill to another yoghurt salad dish; garlic yoghurt with carrots.
- If you love cooking at home, check out our other Turkish recipes so you can bring a touch of Turkey to your kitchen.