In the West, yogurt is mostly eaten sweetened with fruit, sugar or honey. I have to admit I’ve never been a fan. It has always puzzled me why anyone would want to mask the amazing tart flavour of pure, delicious plain yogurt. I’ve even tried the whole greek yogurt, fruit and honey thing……it just doesn’t work for me. Personally, I prefer to celebrate yogurt natural flavour with fresh and savoury ingredients.
Persians, like many other Eastern cultures, do not consume a great deal of dairy. But the one exception is yogurt. Yogurt is a staple in Iranian cuisine. I have fond memories as a child of watching my grandmother making vats of homemade yogurt when she would visit from Iran. There really is nothing like homemade yogurt and I have made a promise to myself that one day I will attempt to make it.
Mast-o-Khiar is a traditional Persian yogurt dish made with fresh mint and cool cucumber. Growing up, my mother made this dish with dried mint but over the years has changed her recipe to include fresh mint and sometimes adds other herbs such as tarragon, chives and basil. Some people prefer to add walnuts or rose petals, while others even include raisins. Personally, my favourite is the simple fresh flavours of the mint, cucumbers and green onions.
Mast-o-Khiar makes a wonderful appetizer, side dish or even a dip for vegetables or bread. I often keep it in my fridge and have it as a healthy snack. In the summer months, my mother sometimes thins the yogurt with bit of ice water and it makes a delicious and refreshing cold soup.
1 750 gram container of plain yogurt (full fat or 2% preferred….my favourite is Liberte Organic 2%)
1 seedless english cucumber, peeled and diced finely
2 green onions (green & white parts), sliced thinly
¾ cup chopped fresh mint leaves
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp pepper
Mix all the ingredients together in a large bowl.
Taste and season with more salt and pepper if necessary.
Serve chilled. Enjoy!