|Simplest Yogurt Sauce|
MAKES: 1 cup
TIME: 3 minutes
Good yogurt is sour and rich, practically a sauce itself; add a little salt and you’re set. The recipe and variations here build on that idea, adding various seasonings or chopped vegetables in the traditions of
(mostly) India— where yogurt sauces are called raitas—and the Middle East.
You can make your own yogurt (see page 823), but good yogurt is sold in stores too; just avoid those containing gelatin or pectin or lacking live cultures. Good yogurt may be thick or thin, it may have a hard, almost cream cheese layer on top, or it may not, but it always has a fresh, sweet-sour smell and delicious flavor. If you want a slightly thicker sauce, drain the yogurt for 15 minutes or so before starting (see page 824).
1 cup yogurt, preferably whole milk
1 teaspoon minced garlic
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Freshly squeezed lemon juice if necessary
1- Combine the yogurt with the garlic, a pinch of salt, and a grinding or two of pepper. Taste and adjust the
seasoning, adding some lemon juice if necessary.
2- Serve immediately or refrigerate for up to a few hours; bring back to near room temperature before serving.
Herbed Yogurt Sauce. Add 1/4 cup chopped fresh herbs or to taste. Use mint leaves, parsley, dill, cilantro, or any other tender herb. A teaspoon of dried mint or dill is also acceptable (other dried herbs are not as good).
Onion Yogurt Sauce. Add a tablespoon or more minced onion, shallot, or scallion; you can omit the garlic or not, as you like.
Richer Yogurt Sauce. Top with a tablespoon or so of good extra virgin olive oil, along with a sprinkling of
paprika or cumin if you like.
Avocado Yogurt Sauce. Stir in (or purée in a food processor) 1/2 ripe avocado or more, along with a little extra lemon juice.
Raita (Cucumber Yogurt Sauce). The classic Indian yogurt sauce: Add about 1 cup cucumber, peeled if you like,رseeded, and chopped (and salted if necessary, see page 207); or peeled, seeded, cored, and diced tomato; or any mixture of vegetables, like those you’d use in Chopped Salad, Five Ways (page 204).
Ginger Yogurt Sauce. Stir in a tablespoon or so of minced fresh ginger.
Fiery Yogurt Sauce. Add hot red pepper flakes, chili powder (to make your own, see page 66), or minced fresh chile to taste.
Spicy Yogurt Sauce. Add a pinch or more of cumin,paprika, cayenne, dry mustard, saffron (let the sauce
stand for a while before using it or use turmeric for the same color if less flavor), or ground ginger.
Nutty Yogurt Sauce. Or Seedy Yogurt Sauce: Stir in up to 1/2 cup finely chopped nuts or seeds. Shredded
unsweetened coconut is an Indian classic, but anything is fair game. (Poppy seeds look gorgeous.)
Yogurt Sauce with Beans. Add 1 cup drained cooked (orcanned) beans, especially chickpeas.
Sweet Yogurt Sauce. A spoonful of honey—either alone or in combination with any of the above—goes well with heavily seasoned food, and the sweetness helps round out yogurt’s natural acidity.
Blue Cheese Dressing. Good with sour cream or mayonnaise too: Add about 1/2 cup crumbled blue cheese (Roquefort, for example) along with a bit of freshly squeezed lemon juice. Omit the garlic.
Vinaigrette: The Ultimate Sauce
You could make the argument that vinaigrette—basically,oil and vinegar with seasonings—is not only the mother of all salad dressings, but also of sauces, and marinades for that matter. (See pages 198–202 for a master recipe and tons of flavoring options.) Here’s a handful of ideas for using vinaigrette beyond salads:
1. Toss with finely chopped fruit or vegetables (or both) for an instant salsa.
2. Serve as a dipping sauce for crudités, dumplings, or other finger foods.
3. Use as a base for building other dips by adding yogurt or sour cream.
4. Drizzle on plain roasted, broiled, grilled, or steamed meat or vegetables toward the end of cooking.
5. Use to marinate fish, meat, or poultry before broiling, grilling, or roasting. Just be sure to blot the
food dry before cooking; often I’ll also cover it with a fresh coat of oil to promote browning. If you want
to use the leftover marinade as a sauce, be sure to boil it for several minutes first.
6. Brush on thickly sliced bread before grilling or broiling or use as a condiment to drizzle on sandwiches
7 Uses for Simplest Yogurt SauceAny of the previous yogurt sauces can be used in myriad different ways. Some ideas:
1. As a salad dressing (thin with a little lemon juice or sherry vinegar and olive oil)
2. Alongside any simply grilled, broiled, roasted,steamed, or sautéed meat, fish, or poultry3. Atop grilled or steamed vegetables or baked potatoes4. As a dip for raw veggies or chips or any sort of fritter or other fried snack5. Stirred into cooked rice or other grains for extra creaminess, body, flavor, and protein6. Cooked on top of roasted vegetables, poultry, or meat as you might cheese (do not overcook, but add
during the last 5 or 10 minutes of cooking)during the last 5 or 10 minutes of cooking)during the last 5 or 10 minutes of cooking)7. Stirred into chopped raw fruit and/or nuts for a more complex fruit salad