Feta and Yogurt Dip
I was shown this very, very simple recipe by a Salonikan Greek. Salonika, or Thessaloniki as the Greeks call it, at the turn of the 19th-20th century was a far more cosmopolitan place than Athens. So it is the culinary capital of Greece, because of the wide variety of influences that inform its cuisine, which make it very distinctive: not just Anatolian Greek and Turkish cuisine, but also Slavonic, Jewish, and other types. It is the only place in Greece where I found tavernas that served a Greek Goulash as well as Souvlaki or Gyros; baked potatoes instead of the ubiquitous patates tiganites (chips/pommes frites). I doubt you can find this dip in many parts of Greece, which is very surprising, since it’s so easy to make and tastes .. well, judge for yourself.
You will need:
250g moist Feta cheese
500g plain natural yoghurt (WITHOUT sugar, for Italian or Central European readers)
2 fat cloves of garlic, crushed.
Mash all the ingredients together with a fork and then put into the blender. Blend/whizz/mix. Hey presto!
Macedonian Melitzanasalata (Aubergine/Eggplant dip)
Another dip, a very common one in Greece, but given a slight twist, from Thessaloniki. This was given to me by an eccentric restaurateur who calls himself the Crown Prince of Macedonia, and who also believes that some UFO’s landed near Kilkis, North of the city. Normally, melitzanasalata is made with the aubergine (eggplant) cooked in the oven. But here is the Crown Prince’s version.
You will need:
1 medium sized aubergine.
2 medium onions (purple-red ones preferred), chopped
2-4 large tablespoons plain natural yoghurt (depending on taste)
I tablespoon wine or cider viegar
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 cloves of garlic, crushed.
(optional) a suspicion of ground paprika.
Prick aubergine with fork twice on both sides. Put into a saucepan of hot water; boil for about half an hour, or until tender. Take the aubergine out and leave to cool. Then peel the skin off the aubergine and cut off the head. Add all the other ingredients to the flesh of the aubergine except the paprika, mash slightly with a fork and then put into the blender. Mix/whizz/blend. Pour into bowl and leave for an hour, covered, in the fridge, before serving.
If you like, dust it lightly with paprika.