Wednesday, December 17, 2008
Tzatziki or not Tzatziki, that was my question.
The relationship between tzatziki sauce and Kebaba is as complicated as some of the Ancient Greek's relationships with their neighbor's over the centuries. But to first understand our relationship with the Greek yogurt and cucumber sauce one must first understand the histories of both. Although difficult to pinpoint it's true origin, historically tzatziki is used in Greek cuisine to accompany either souvlaki or gyros, but over the years has been accepted and transformed by other cultures throughout the region. To the Cypriots the dish is known as ttalattouri and recipes often include less garlic and includes the herb mint unlike the Greek counterpart. Similar versions can be seen in Bulgaria, Iraq, Iran, Afganistan, India and other hot-bed areas throughout the world. Therefore it is easy to presume that if one is not careful, those who embrace this delicious sauce can suffer much tribulation. Which leads me to believe it is a possibility tzatziki could very well be the basis for all of the problems that now exist in the Middle East today.
Like the complicated history of tzatziki, the history of Kebaba is also shrouded in mystery. Those who have visited have often been surprised by the wonderfully authentic and traditionally inspired dishes served up, without a person of Middle Eastern decent visible behind the scenes. Due to the extreme make-over, it is also confusing to long-time Bend residents as to what businesses used to be in that little old house Kebaba now resides in. Well, training with various Middle Eastern transplants over the years and a pure love of the cuisine, have allowed us to break the culture barrier and venture into the Modern Middle Eastern cuisine world. As for that little old house Kebaba now resides in, it used to be a green and white cottage that housed a few fancy restaurants prior to our make-over of the building and menu concept. Tzatziki was intentionally avoided for the first couple of years to not get our customers confused about the Middle Eastern versus Greek cuisine. But after the untimely fall of Demetri's on the East-side and through continued customer requests we felt it is now time to give the people more of what they want.
Although I wouldn't argue this point with the father of the bride in the movie "My Big fat Greek Wedding", the Greek word is derived from the Turkish cacık, which means a form of chutney (cacık, the Turkish side dish with similar ingredients, is diluted). Although basic in ingredients, tzatziki's preparation is time consuming and can seem complicated to the everyday cook. The yogurt and cucumber first needs to be strained and this process alone can be intimidating to most. But through many trials and test batches I have finally found a recipe I can be proud of and willing to share with the masses. Ours is a little more heavy on the cucumber and a little less heavy on the garlic than most recipes I consulted. So please come by and try our version of this often misunderstood and battle tested, delicious, creamy and zesty sauce.
Recommended pairings. Lamb Schwarma and Falafel Sandwiches. Lamb or Chicken Kebab Entrees. Lunch or Dinner Mezzas and Zataar Manakeesh Appetizer.