Cucumber and Yogurt Dip

A taste for plain yogurt is clearly a matter of culture. American children, if they eat yogurt at all, usually prefer it sweetened. But across the Middle East and beyond to India, where yogurt with various herbs, spices, and vegetables is a standard sauce or condiment at every meal, small children acquire the taste very early. I fed a spoonful of plain yogurt to my son when he was 10 months old, and (to my amazement, I admit) he wanted another. In time, he grew to love this cold cucumber and yogurt mixture as much as Middle Eastern kids do.

Whether called tzatziki (Greece), cacik (Turkey), or raita (India), it makes a delicious dip for warm wedges of pita bread. But it's also a great cold sauce for sautéed summer squash and boiled potatoes.

This recipe is also a great way to introduce your kids to fresh-from-the-garden food. You don't have to dig up half the lawn — or even have a lawn. All you need is a sunny spot, some deep pots, and a few bags of soil.

Hands-On Time: 25 minutes
Ready In: 30 minutes
Yield: about 1 1/2 cups (6 servings)

Ingredients

    1/2 pound cucumber (roughly 1 medium)
    1 cup plain yogurt
    1 small garlic clove, minced
    1/3 cup finely chopped fresh mint leaves
    Salt to taste

Directions

  1. Peel and seed the cucumbers. Using the large holes on a box grater, grate the cucumber into a small bowl.
  2. A handful at a time (kids like doing this), gently squeeze the water out of the grated cucumber. (More than half a cucumber's weight is water.)
  3. Return the cucumber to the bowl and stir in the yogurt, garlic, mint, and salt.

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