21 August 2016

Snezhanka or Dry Tarator

When I went to Sweden just after Easter, my friend Nana invited us over for dinner - her Mum was visiting and so it was a good thing to meet up. As usual they'd prepared a fabulous spread, among everything else, a large bowl of what is called Snezhanka or dry tarator. And Nana's Mum makes the best one I've ever had and I've not been able to work out how, but today I decided to give it a go. It's not something my Mum has in her repertoire oddly enough, I'm guessing it's not something that my parents like.


A note on the name - Snezhanka is the Bulgarian name for Snow White fairy tale. Dry tarator is perhaps a more suitable name, given that the ingredients are almost the same.


900 g full fat yoghurt, resulting in 540 g strained yoghurt
280 g pickled gherkins
0.5 dl chopped fresh dill
1 dl mayonnaise
salt to taste


  1. Place two layers of cheese cloth in a sieve and place it over a large bowl. Spoon the yoghurt into the cheese cloth and leave for 5 - 6 h to strain as much as posible of the whey. Stir the yoghurt a few times while it's straining.
  2. Chop the gherkins as finely as possible and place them in a bowl along with the strained youghurt, the dill, mayonnaise and salt.
  3. Stir through to combine well and chill until needed.

The mayonnaise is a bit of an after-thought. I did try to find recipes on the internet, but none seemed to be quite right - some had fresh cucumbers, some used a 50-50 mixture of fresh cucumbers and pickled gherkins. Many added lemon juice or vinegar, which perhaps would be needed only if the yoghurt is on the sweet side. The one I got hold of this time was very close to what you get in Bulgaria, so quite sharp.

The tarator also calls for garlic - I skipped this as Lundulph seems to be struggling with it lately. And what I ended up with was something very sour, thus I squirted in a lot of mayonnaise, which mellowed the whole thing somewhat and after discussing with my Mum and asking her to chase up Nana's Mum's recipe, she did comment that mayonnaise might be the key ingredient here.

I discovered that it was rather tasty with Swedish smörgåsrån - thin wheat wafers that are normally served on a cheese tray. Lundulph thought it worked fairly OK with hot smoked salmon.

The interesting part of the recipe was the straining of the yoghurt. I've never done this before, they sell strained Greek youghurt in my local supermarket, but there had been a massive run on yoghurt and there was only the fat-free stuff left. There's no way I'll buy that. It's amazing how much whey there is.

IMG_5090 IMG_5093

As it turned out, I've run out of cheese cloth - I only had small pieces left and they were all pink from last year's egg paining. So straining the yoghurt was a bit of a challenge, but it worked.

Anyway, overall this experiment was not a success, but we've almost finished the dry tarator. Hopefully I'll get hold of Nana's Mum's recipe and have better success with that.

Update 2016-09-07: My Mum kindly spoke with Nana's Mum about the fabulous dry tarator she makes and indeed, a less "mature" yogurt should be used, i. e. one that's freshly made and thus not as sour in flavour as the one I used. Next is to use fresh cucumbers, not pickle ones. But they must be de-seeded or the straining of the yoghurt will have been in vain. Finally, a lot of walnuts, very finely chopped will help balance the flavours. So I'll need to experiment further still.

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