Mast o Khiar: Persian Yogurt & Cucumber Dip

This delicious and creamy cucumber and walnut dip (also called Mast o Khiar) will make your mouth water.

That coral pink sludge we used to buy from the Sainsbury’s closest to our dorm was usually scooped up with salt and vinegar crisps. Taramosalata it was called.

My Greek friend MM had introduced me to it, but I am sure it was quite different than the real stuff she was eating back home in Athens.

We all loved it, we thought we were the ultimate gourmandes, eating in the common room together, bitching about that Italian Econometrics professor who didn’t really know what that damn Monte Carlo algorithm test was- and neither did we.

Then there was tzatziki, a Greek yoghurt and cucumber dip, also bought at Sainsbury’s.

It was probably thickened with gelatin and how they kept the cucumbers ‘fresh and crunchy’ for so many days, well, that would be thanks to the chemistry of preservatives galore.

Anyway, we ate that, too. We were proper gourmandes, after all. And with the salt and vinegar crisps to go with the dips, we were really on to something new.

Ah, life in our twenties, when we were so easily pleased. A trip to London on the train to have a coffee at Cafe Nero (ultimate symbol of cool-ness), a meal at some shady Chinese restaurant in Soho where noodle dishes were ample and the stir-fried beef was questionable.

Sugared melon juice at a Lebanese place on the Edgware Road and a carb-laden-oily dim sum at Poon’s.

A walk through the Covent Garden and finally a film in Leicester Square before taking the train back to our uni town, while eating packets of Quavers (don’t judge, please) or some other delectably greasy bag of crisps.

I miss those days not because I yearn for that tzatziki or that awful packaged taramosalata, but because it took so little to make us deliriously happy.

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Mast-o-Khiar- Cucumber & Walnut Dip in the Persian Manner and My Birthday

Yield: 4
Author: Shayma Saadat

Ingredients

  • 500 g full-fat yogurt (Greek-style or Balkan-style)
  • 2 English cucumbers (small cucumbers), peeled and diced into small pieces
  • 50 g chopped walnuts
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp dried mint, plus extra for garnish
  • salt of your choice to taste (I use fleur de sel or maldon)
  • dried rose petals, optional, available in Persian grocery stores
  • extra virgin olive oil for drizzling

Instructions

  • In a medium bowl, add yogurt, cucumber, walnuts, garlic, mint and salt. Stir well to combine. Transfer the mixture to a serving dish. Lightly sprinkle with dried mint and dried rose petals (if using). Drizzle with your best extra virgin olive oil.
  • NOTE: When preparing this recipe in advance, do not add cucumbers to the yoghurt. Keep the diced cucumber and the yoghurt mixture in separate containers, covered, in the refrigerator. Drain the cucumbers in a sieve prior to stirring the solids into the yoghurt mixture.

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32 Comments

  1. You must come to Greece and taste the real taramosalata and tzatziki, dear Shayma πŸ™‚
    Beautiful dip, I love those rose petals.

    Happy birthday!! Have a great time!

  2. Ahh, Sainsbury’s taramosalata and tzatziki – the dips that accompanied a 10 British student parties. I’m pretty sure the recipes are unchanged even now, and you should see the crimes commited in the name of supermarket ‘hummus’. Homemade is on another plane entirely and garlanded with those rose petals and walnuts you’ve made a humble, simple thing look so beautiful. Yum!

  3. Happy Birthday! I hope you have a brilliant day. I remember all the crap I used to eat when I was a kid – chicken nuggets with curry sauce from the local chippy, WHAM bars and fish finger sandwiches. Good times.

  4. @Magda I know, I really must, especially since two of my closest friends are from Athens and I have been promising them I’ll go there sometime soon. Dying to go, actually. Thanks for the kind words and the birthday wishes.

    @Kulsum Thanks, darling friend.

    @Katy Your Royal Saltiness- you, too? How many hummus parties have you had? Tell the truth, please! Thanks so much x

    @Prerna Thanks, dear friend.

    @Helen Thank you so much. ‘Used to’? I still eat a lot of rubbish. Watch me in Lahore, devouring pakoras and samosas from the street kiosks. And when in the UK- bags of crisps and cheap chocolate like Kit Kat, Galaxy and Aero. The list is never-ending. x

  5. Oh yes, the Sainsburys’ hummus and tarmasalta – a baguette was our scooper of choice when I was in university at Birmingham. And there was usually a bottle of rose on hand too. Because, like you, we were sophisticated gourmands πŸ˜‰ But as you said, it made us happy (and was a pretty cheap lunch).

    Now I shudder to think about what exactly makes those dips the consistency they are, and as for that funny tangy taste they all share… well… I think i’ll stick to home made from now on.

    Lovely recipe, I am a big maker of my own versions of both raita and tzatziki. I love the addition of walnuts and rose petals, they would definitely add another dimension in terms of taste and appearance. Dying to go and try them out now.

    Something else I do is to leave out the cucumber, and instead mix in some saffron steeped in warm water. It leaves you with a lovely rich yoghurt sauce, and I bet that would go well with walnuts too.

  6. @Sara Thanks, lovely.

    @Shama Thank you, very kind of you.

    @Grubworm Thanks for the wishes. As for hummus, well we were proper snobs about that- I have no idea why. Maybe because we were having some fantastic stuff down on the Edgware Road on the weekends. We make raita at home a lot- we add tomatoes, onions, fresh chili and coriander. But the consistency of the yoghurt is thinner in that case, compared to mast-o-khiar. I love your idea of having a saffron and walnut ‘raita’. I shall try it.

  7. Shammy lovely post and gorgeous pics . May i add am guilty of being a consumer of those dodgy Tzatkizi and Hummus dips u get at sainsburys , they are getting posher by the day with new varieties infused with peri peri and caramelized onions lol, does the job and hits the spot so i say why the hell not specially when one has the munchies and not a lot of time and for the more authentic exotic stuff i could always pay you a visit πŸ˜‰

  8. Hi Shayma, Happy Birthday. Enjoy the birthday in Montreal. Also I think we now need a recipe for a birthday cake in the Persian, Afghan, Pakistani manner

  9. This looked so nice I made it right when I got home this weekend. I make cucumber and yogurt raita all the time but I would have never thought to add walnuts – it was delicious! Thanks for the yummy recipe.

  10. That looks absolutely gorgeous. I am a total crisp fiend; hula hoops ready salted, i am a woman of simple tastes. Those ones look great, perfectly scoopable.

    Happy belated birthday!

  11. I visit your blog off and on as it is in my book marks from 2010. Never wrote a comment before. Glad to know that you will resume blogging soon.
    I am going to cook a dish tomorrow which I will link it to your blog. My husband eats his cucumber yogurt like yours but without rose petals.

  12. Dear Shayma: Thanks for another lovely story and luscious-looking recipe. I can’t wait to try this dip. If it’s anything like your famous Yogurt and Spinach Dip with walnuts, Mast-o-Khiar is destined to be a favorite chez nous.

  13. happy belated birthday shayma. hope you had a great day.

    liked your story and similar to mine where i would hang out with my college buddies and visit so many junk joints in bombay & eat only junk food… which i still do today but on rare occasions πŸ™‚

  14. Happy Birthday Shayma…hope you can walk in the Montreal alleys to your heart’s content!

    This dip looks lovely, specially with the rose petals – can we actually eat these dried rose petals?

    My 8 yr old daughter created a recipe a few days back which was a bit similar but had added a lot more ingredients high in cholesterol!!!

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