Sunday 27 February 2011

Turks gave the world Yoghurt!

The Turks gave the world Yoghurt!

Yoghurt is derived from the Turkish word yogurt.  The Turks before living in Turkey were nomadic people living in Central Asia.  The tribes of the Ottomans and Selcuks were the forerunner of the modern Turks. As they rode slowly across the plains of Central Asia they needed dairy products that would last the trip.  They were the first to produce yogurt from sour milk.

Man selling Yogurt
Yogurt is a big part of the Turkish diet.  It can be anything from a plain bowl of yogurt with the evening meal to a refreshing drink called Ayran.  As you all know by now I used to live in İstanbul, Silivri in fact.  Silivri proudly presents a Yogurt Festival every year.  Silivri Yogurt is famous throughout İstanbul as it is one of the nicest, plus it is made only with sheep milk.  

I have posted a few yogurt dishes and will post more in the future as it really is a versitile food and can be used in a variety of ways.  

Meze yogurt recipes
Yogurt soup recipe

One of the main dishes that is made with yogurt is Cacık it seems to be eaten all over Turkey and comes in 2 forms.  One is thinner and eaten more like a soup that is eaten in the eastern areas and the other, thicker one featuring in İstanbul cuisine.  I will also give you the recipe for Ayran, this drink is drank everywhere but probably mainly as a Street food, served alongside Döner.

Cacık Istanbul Style
500gr of plain yogurt
4 medium cucumbers
1tbs dried mint
2 cloves garlic, or more if desired

Place the yogurt in a bowl and whisk well.  Put aside and grate the peeled cucumbers.(I don't peel but most people do)Add the grated cucumber in with the yogurt and stir well.  Mince the garlic and add to the yogurt mix along with the dried mint and stir well.  This depends on you, if your yogurt wasn't too thick to start with water will not be necessary.  If you used a very thick yogurt like Greek style you might want to add a very small amount of water.  You want this to be spoonable but not runny.  The recipe calls for a small amount of olive oil (2 tbs) to be added, I don't but feel free to do so yourselves.

Cacık Eastern Style
500gr yogurt
4 medium cucumbers
1tbs dried mint
2 cloves garlic, or more if desired
2 cups of water

Cut the ends off the cucumbers and finely dice them. Put aside.  Put the yogurt into a bowl and whisk well.  Add in the diced cucumbers, minced garlic and dried mint.  Stir well.  Add in the water and stir well.  

Both of these recipes are served in little bowls on the side.  The water in the second version can be increased slightly if desired, as I have been to homes where unexpected visitors have come and more water is added into the cacık to spread it around.  The amount of garlic is really up to personal taste but 2 cloves is a good starting point.  Also some people add a pinch of salt to their cacık.

Cacık is served as a side dish along with salads and pilavs.

500gr plain yogurt
2 cups of water
pinch of salt

In a jug add everything together and using a stick blender, blend for a few seconds.  Serve cold.  

I really like Ayran, especially in summer when its too hot to eat anything except watermelon.

Old yogurt factory in Silivri

I forgot to say that the Silivri Yogurt Festival usually begins at the start of the Summer school holidays, there is a great outdoor, beachfront market that is open until late with live music.  They have several large name singers come to perform for a week and at this time there is the usual Oil Wrestling competitions you can attend.


  1. Cacik sounds a lot like tzatziki. I could eat a gigantic bowl of it with some warm pita bread - yummmm!

  2. It is Michelle :)we eat it by the bowlful. Are you thinking about making cheese and yogurt from your little goats?

  3. I like the thicker sounding version. When I make it I grate the cucumber so it's less chunky.

  4. Love it, thanks for the history of Yogurt. I kinda figured it was from here since the name seems like it's originally turkish. I can't believe how much of the stuff I eat after having moved here. - Jake