Why It Works
- Cucumbers add a welcome crunch to the creamy yogurt.
- Each the cucumber and dried mint present a brilliant, refreshing, and cooling aroma and taste that enhances the tangy yogurt.
Open any Persian restaurant menu within the Western world and you might be positive to seek out māst-o-khiār. This well-liked Persian yogurt and cucumber dish is flexible, serving many roles on the desk, from a starter to an accompaniment for rice and grilled meats, and even as a dip. A Persian sofreh—the bodily desk setting, and the folks gathered round it for a meal—is unthinkable and not using a bowl of some form of yogurt-based accompaniment, and māst-o-khiār is arguably the most well-liked amongst them.
The mix of plain yogurt and finely diced or shredded contemporary cucumber is easy and simple to place collectively but produces an thrilling distinction of flavors (sharp, tangy, and refreshing) and textures (creamy and crunchy) multi functional bit.
It’s a successful mixture—simply have a look at what number of iterations of yogurt combined with contemporary cucumbers exist all through the Center East, and Central Asia, and southeastern Europe: Greek tzatziki, Turkish cacik, Bulgarian tarator, Indian raita, and Iraqi jajeek, simply to call just a few. Whereas these yogurt-based, sauce-like dishes have many similarities, right here I’ll converse to the distinctive traits and historical past of māst-o-khiār.
Historical past of Māst-o-Khiār
Māst-o-khiār is a member of a giant household of Persian side-dishes referred to as borāni which can be made out of a combination of yogurt (drained or undrained), uncooked or cooked greens, and some easy seasonings. Their reputation stems from the truth that they’re easy, fast to organize, nourishing, and in a position to serve a number of wants.
The phrase borāni is assumed to have originated within the historical Persian Sassanian dynasty, round 630 CE. The queen of Iran on the time, Poorānkokht, was identified for her love of yogurt. The royal cooks created quite a lot of yogurt dishes for her, which grew to become often known as “poorani” after the queen herself. After the Arab conquests of Iran, for the reason that letter “p” didn’t exist within the Arabic alphabet, the identify of the dishes advanced to its present model.
The Major Substances in Māst-o-Khiār
This straightforward recipe consists of simply two primary substances—cucumber and yogurt—so the choice and therapy of those substances is essential for this recipe’s success.
Cucumber: To cube or shred? That’s the query, and in my expertise and analysis there isn’t a consensus amongst Persian cooks. Some swear by a small cube whereas others strongly want the feel of the cucumber when shredded or grated. Primarily based on having made 1000’s of batches over a number of many years, I’ve discovered that it merely comes down to non-public choice. Whether or not the cucumber is diced or shredded, each variations can have a comparable taste and creaminess. After all there are some anticipated variations in texture—your tongue feeling tiny cubes of crunchy cucumber versus longer and thinner strands of it, however the principle distinction comes all the way down to the time it takes to prep a cube in comparison with shredding.
For me, it takes a bit longer to finely cube than counting on a field grater or meals processor to do the majority of the labor for me. So if I’m making a double- or triple-batch (which I usually do since this shops so properly and pairs properly with virtually all the pieces), I’ll use the massive holes of a field grater or the shredding disk attachment with my meals processor. My private favourite, nonetheless, is half grated and half diced—it’s one of the best of all textural worlds.
Whether or not diced or shredded, simply make sure that to make use of a thin-skinned cucumber reminiscent of Persion or English cucumbers with comparatively few seeds in comparison with different varieties of cucumbers. In case you do find yourself utilizing a thicker-skinned and seedier cucumber (suppose Kirby or American), I like to recommend dicing the cucumber, as shredding will launch an excessive amount of liquid and require an additional straining step.
Yogurt: You need to use common (undrained) yogurt or drained “Greek” (drained) yogurt. The drained yogurt gives you a thicker māst-o-khiār good for use as an appetizer or a dip, whereas common undrained yogurt gives you a thinner, extra pourable model that works properly as an accompaniment spooned over rice or grilled meat.
And whereas a full-fat yogurt will in fact lead to a richer māst-o-khiār than a reduced-fat one, what’s extra vital f is the yogurt’s taste. Tanginess is vital right here. The tangier the yogurt, the tastier your māst-o-khiār. Conventional Persian yogurt is tangier than most yogurt varieties present in U.S. supermarkets, so that you’ll must make some extent of discovering a tangier yogurt. When you’ve got entry to Persian, Mideastern, or Mediterranean markets, you’ll have the ability to discover the suitable yogurt. In North America, search for such manufacturers as White Moustache, Damavand, Abali, Sadaf, and Karoun. In case you reside in the UK, search for manufacturers like Alwand, Abali, Naz, Pegah, or Diba. An alternative choice when you’ve got the time and dedication is to make your personal homemade yogurt, and improve the fermentation interval by 8 hours for a correctly tangy Persian-style yogurt.
Variations of Māst-o-Khiār
As is widespread with easy and versatile recipes, there are lots of māst-o-khiār variations which can be usually primarily based on household or regional preferences. One well-liked variation entails the addition of six finely diced or crushed cloves of garlic. Simply be ready for the garlicky punch with this model. One other nice possibility for allium lovers is so as to add your most well-liked quantity of finely chopped crimson onion to the yogurt combination. Or, add extra texture with chopped contemporary tomatoes (my father’s favourite model).
The Persian chilly soup āb-doogh-khiār is a well-liked summer season dish that’s made by diluting māst-o-khiār with icy chilly water and including raisins, chopped walnuts, and extra herbs reminiscent of dill and cilantro. It makes an ideal summertime lunch with crushed dried Lavash bread (or crushed dried pita or crackers) added to every bowl proper earlier than consuming.
How one can Serve Māst-o-Khiār
Irrespective of how it’s ready, māst-o-khiār must be served family-style, in a single massive bowl for household and visitors to scoop into. If serving it as a dip or as a proper appetizer, Persians get pleasure from it with a basket of Persian flatbread (e.g., lavāsh, sangak, tāftoon, babari) or one other flatbread reminiscent of pita may even work.
Whether or not spooned over succulent meat and fluffy rice for dinner, or scooped onto a flatbread to start out a meal, there isn’t a mistaken strategy to get pleasure from this Persian yogurt and cucumber dish.
Māst-o-Khiār (Persian Yogurt with Cucumber)
Is it a facet? Is it a dip? There’s no mistaken strategy to get pleasure from māst-o-khiār, a easy mixture of tangy yogurt and refreshing cucumber loved all through Iran.
4 Persian cucumbers or 1 English cucumber (about 14 ounces; 400g complete), peeled (see notes)
2 cups (475g) plain yogurt (see notes)
2 teaspoons crushed dried mint leaves (see notes), plus further for garnish
1/2 teaspoon freshly floor black pepper
Cube the peeled cucumber into 1/4-inch (0.5cm) items. Alternatively, shred the cucumber on the massive holes of a field grater.
In a big mixing bowl, stir collectively the cucumber, yogurt, mint, and pepper. Season with salt to style. Switch to a serving dish and sprinkle with extra mint for garnish, if desired. Serve.
English cucumber could also be substituted for Persian cucumber with an equal quantity by weight. Data on methods to cube cucumbers might be discovered here.
Common (undrained) yogurt or Greek (drained) yogurt will each work on this recipe. The drained yogurt will produce a thicker māst-o-khiār good as an appetizer or a dip. Common undrained yogurt will make a thinner and extra pourable māst-o-khiār that’s nice served as an accompaniment to a rice dish or grilled meat. You need to use full- or partial-fat yogurt; remember the fact that full-fat yogurt will produce a richer outcome, however extra vital than something is to make use of an appropriately tangy yogurt if in any respect attainable (see headnote for extra steerage on yogurt kind).
Make Certain to make use of dried spearmint, and never dried peppermint for this recipe.
Relating to the quantity of cucumber and yogurt, māst-o-khiār is a really versatile recipe within the sense that you do not want to be actual.
Make-Forward and Storage
Māst-o-khiār at all times tastes higher the day after it has been made. Merely retailer it in a coated container within the fridge.
In case you do make it a day forward of time, and wish to improve its pure tanginess, go away it in a coated container in your kitchen counter at room temperature in a single day earlier than transferring the container to your fridge. The yogurt will naturally ferment a bit extra.
Māst-o-khiār retains very properly: Retailer any leftovers in an hermetic container within the fridge for as much as 10 days. I virtually at all times make a double batch.