I love potato chips. (Yes, I have declared this in an earlier post). I eat them daily. They are my late night snack. An indulgence. A reward for completing as many items off project “work lists”.
I go through flavour cycles and varieties. Sometimes with dip, other times without. Lately, I eat only plain or rippled chips and dip. Chips, while delicious, have a lot of preservatives, so to create some kind of balance, I make my own dip. Need more reason to eat chips with dip? Chips are good on their own, but dip adds more excitement. Part of the fun in eating chips is dipping them into a cool, creamy, tangy sauce.
At one point, I was all about sour cream as the base, now only yogurt. Actually, homemade yogurt. (I’ve included a recipe below). There really is nothing like homemade yogurt, but yes there is always a “but”, if you do not make homemade yogurt, any full-fat variety of Greek yogurt will work.
I have memories of watching my Mom making homemade yogurt. My keen observations led to soaking up her tricks of the trade that would ensure yogurt success. I won’t lie, making your own yogurt at home takes a bit of time, but it’s so easy and cheap—plus, you will know that it isn’t loaded with processed sugar and food colourings. At some point, you may find that you only want to eat yogurt you’ve made yourself. Yes, it’s that good.
While I know yogurt devotees who celebrate yogurt’s flavour with berries, honey, or granola, I drift towards savoury mixtures. I find by adding a little yogurt to each bite, food somehow transforms to being more enjoyable. In a miraculous kind of way. Since I detest drinking milk, yogurt provides most of my calcium intake. I eat yogurt, especially this dip with chips, but have extended my consumption to include potatoes and rice.
This dip was inspired by a new found interest in anything and everything Persian. During this past summer, I spent countless hours in North Vancouver, trying Persian restaurants, bakeries, and food markets. I did some food history research and found, South Asian cuisine is heavily influenced by Persian cookery and vice versa. Both cuisines have borrowed spices, styles, and recipes from one another and in turn left their mark. Similarities include stew style dishes using a healthy balance of vegetables, beans and herbs coupled with lamb, beef or chicken. Herbs like cilantro, dill, mint, basil, parsley and fenugreek also have a firm foothold on both South Asian and Persian cuisine. Rice and traditional breads are prevalent, along with a significant part of the cuisine being vegetarian.
Mast-o-khiar is a Persian dip that is easy and quick to make. Literally translated the name of this dip means yogurt and cucumber. This yogurt dip, is one variation of countless Persian yogurt sauces that are a cornerstone of Persian cuisine. Traditionally they are used as a side with rice dishes or stews or eaten with just about anything.
The foundational formula for Persian inspired dips are usually yogurt and one or two other ingredients. Some people get fancy, amping it up by adding fresh chopped mint, roasted walnuts, raisins, or like in true Persian food artistry a flourish of dried rose petals. It is a staple at Persian parties because it is such a crowd pleaser.
While all those variations sound interesting, what I crave in my dip is SPICE. A Mast-o-felfel dip, translated as yogurt with chilli and maybe a bit of cilantro. To get the heat, I prefer finely chopped Patak’s Hot Chili Pickle. It perks my senses and since it is a staple in my pantry, I always have it on hand. If you haven’t tried it, look for it in your local grocery store’s ethnic aisle. It is potently spicy, tangy, and a bit oily. However, the seeds and skin of the chillies impart a lovely robust flavour to yogurt. Plus, it’s a pretty dip that takes on a pale green tone, when all the ingredients are mixed. Like me, you’ll be revisiting it over and over again.
Whether you have a game to sit through, a party to attend, or want to indulge all by yourself, you will definitely want to be eating this dip. The flavours work so well together, it’s hard to stop eating and you will be wishing you made more. Forget about those packets of dried stuff you mix with sour cream. You have not experienced chips until you’ve had them with my version of mast-o-felfel.
4 cups of whole milk (full fat)
1 tablespoon existing plain yogurt (I like Greek yogurt)
1 teaspoon of sugar (optional, it helps make the yogurt bacteria grow)
Heat up the milk until it just begins to simmer (185°F). The mixture should start to froth, but not boil. If you aren’t using a double boiler, be sure to stir it to prevent scalding.
Remove from heat. Wait or use ice bath to cool the milk. Once the milk has reached 110–120°F, remove it from heat and place pot in the ice bath, but keep stirring to help cool. Milk needs to be slightly warm but not too hot. Now, whisk in one tablespoon of store-bought yogurt. Add sugar if using.
Pour the milk clean container. I use a plastic one devoted only to yogurt making.
Now it’s time to incubate the yogurt. In a large stock pot, layer clean kitchen towels, place the yogurt container (with a lid) in the center. Wrapping it up with the towels.
Cover pot with lid and keep away from light. Do not disturb. Let sit for about seven to nine hours. Remove from pot and towels. Refrigerate for several hours before serving.
Yogurt Chili Dip
2 cups yogurt (Greek yogurt is best, strain yogurt over cheesecloth for an hour to thicken texture, also full fat yogurt is best)
2 tablespoons Pataks Hot Chili Pickle, finely chopped
1 tablespoon Cilantro, chopped
Grind of pepper
Mix ingredients well.