I don’t have children, but I can always tell when school term is in full swing. Around 3pm, every other weekday, there’s a queue of uniformed school children eagerly waiting outside a little cafe near my house. Snaking around the block, and beaming with anticipation, the queue of youngsters (and their parents) can’t seem to contain their excitement for a refreshing taste of soft-serve frozen…yoghurt. Yes, yoghurt.
I find this pretty interesting. Apart from the fact that this particular store has recently opened its doors, there’s nothing entirely new about the froyo craze. If Seinfeld has taught us anything (and let’s be honest, it’s a social guide), indulging in a scoop of fancy frozen yoghurt has been trending since at least the early 90s. And for good reason. It tastes great, and feels lighter and healthier than traditional ice cream.
But that queue, everyday around 3pm, got me thinking: yoghurt has never been so fashionable. Especially, Greek-style yoghurt.
A decade ago, I’d go to the supermarket and ask for “natural yoghurt”, only to be directed by a staff member to the vanilla-flavoured kind. Now, thanks in part to the brilliant marketing by dairy companies and the ubiquitous #cleaneating movement, tubs of Greek-style yoghurt are flying off the supermarket shelves. In cakes and muffins, Greek yoghurt has become a perfectly acceptable substitute for full cream. And, a breakfast bowl is not complete without a couple spoonfuls of the popular dairy.
Yoghurt fever, it seems, is here to stay. And I couldn’t be happier.
Growing up in an Iranian household, a bowl of natural yoghurt was always on the dinner table. We’d dip bread in it, add a dollop to our rice dishes, or just scoop it up plain. To this day, I still love to add natural yoghurt to anything and everything. And I mean everything. Pasta, burritos, pizza, salads, anything.
So here’s a recipe for one of the most common yoghurt accompaniments in Persian cuisine, called maast o khiyar.
Cucumber & mint yoghurt dip (Maast o khiyar)
2 medium cucumbers, peeled
500ml Greek-style yoghurt
1tbs mint flakes
Salt & pepper
1. Dice cucumbers into very small, fine pieces. A faster alternative is to grate the cucumbers, then squeeze out any excess moisture with your hands.
2. Combine yoghurt, cucumber and mint flakes in a bowl. Mix well.
3. Season with a pinch of salt and pepper.
4. Serve with warm lebanese or pita bread, or as an accompaniment to any rice dish.