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'Haydari' Is Classic Turkish 'Meze' Made With Strained Yogurt, Garlic And Herbs


'Haydari' Is Classic Turkish 'Meze' Made With Strained Yogurt, Garlic And Herbs

'Haydari' is a classic Turkish meze made with strained yogurt, garlic and herbs

Photo © Elizabeth Taviloglu, 2012

If you've travelled to Turkey, you've probably enjoyed this classic starter, or 'meze,' at a fish restaurant somewhere between Istanbul and Antalya. Strained yogurt, or Greek yogurt, whipped together with garlic and fresh herbs is called 'haydari' (high-DAHR'-ee).

Unlike its cousin 'cacık' (jah-JUK'), a watery yogurt and cucumber soup that's normally served with meat fare, 'haydari' is a pungent appetizer that is most often served before a meal of grilled fresh fish.

'Haydari' is very easy to prepare. All you need is Greek yogurt, a few cloves of garlic, some olive oil and dry spices like oregano, mint and basil. You can also use fresh herbs for an even fresher, more flavorful mix.

How To Make Your Own Strained Yogurt

If you don't have Greek yogurt, you can make your own. Simply put a generous amount of plain yogurt in the center of a large piece of cheesecloth. Gather up all the corners at the top and tie a knot.

Hang the "bag" filled with yogurt on the faucet of your kitchen sink and allow the liquid to drip out for several hours. When the liquid stops dripping, open up the pouch and you'll have thick, strained yogurt!

'Haydari' Makes A Great Dip And Spread

I like to serve 'haydari' the classic way , straight up along with other classic meze dishes before a fish meal. It's also good as a dip or spread. Strained yogurt is filling, so a little bit goes a long way. A slice of toasted bread or a few crackers spread with 'haydari' makes a satisfying snack or light lunch.

Try 'haydari' as an appetizer the next time you serve fish to give your table a Turkish twist, or serve it at your next get together.

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Total Time: 15 minutes


  • 8 ounces / 250 grams of thick Greek yogurt, or homemade strained yogurt
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 1/2 tsp. salt, more or less to taste
  • 1/4 tsp. black or white pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp. dried mint
  • 1/2 tsp.dried dill weed or basil
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil


  1. First, whisk the Greek yogurt and olive oil together until very smooth and creamy. Add the salt and spices and continue whipping. Add more salt, if desired. Refrigerate for about an hour before serving to allow the yogurt to set.
  2. You can substitute the dried herbs with fresh ones for a more colorful, flavorful 'haydari.' Make sure you wash them well, and remove any tough stems. Use only the leaves and chop them as finely as you can. Expirement with different herbs until you find what you like the best.
  3. Serve 'haydari' straight up, or along with toasted bread slices, melba toast or your favorite crackers. It also goes well as a dip for vegetables and sturdy chips and pretzels.
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