Make Some Tarator

As far as dips go, if it has raw garlic you can count me in. This started with guacamole and continued right on through to hummus and beyond. My most recent discovery is the Turkish dip tarator.

Tarator consists of almonds ground with olive oil, water or broth, lemon juice, salt, pepper and garlic. As with any dish featuring Allium sativum au naturel, the garlic is the strongest flavor, but the almonds also contribute a pretty strong flavor of their own: that mixture of cream and nuts that is almond. The key to bringing this flavor out is to use enough salt; add salt until you taste almonds. The almonds also give the sauce a surprising amount of body with a thick, whipped texture.  This sauce is strikingly white, so consider using white pepper to preserve that.

Apparently tarator is eaten with seafood in Turkey, particularly fried seafood. The recipe I used was intended to go with fried mussels. Instead, I served it with Moorish lamb meatballs, substituting it for a different almond-based sauce. Putting the tarator with food helps to mellow the strong garlic flavor which, tasted by itself, can be a little intimidating, even to diehard garlic fans.

Happy Easter

Here’s the recipe, from Ana Sortun’s Spice: Flavors of the Eastern Mediterranean:

  • 1/4 c Olive Oil
  • 1/2 c water or mussel poaching liquid or what have you
  • 2 t minced garlic
  • 1/2 c blanched whole almonds
  • 1 t lemon juice
  • Salt and Pepper

Put olive oil, water, garlic, almonds and lemon juice in blender or food processor (NB: Sortun says to add them in that order which I guess would make a difference if you use a blender, which she recommends, but not so much in a food processor, which I used). Puree for at least 3 minutes so the mixture is completely smooth. Season to taste with salt and pepper.


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2 comments on “Make Some Tarator”

  1. Martha 19 April, 2009 at 7:14 pm

    Can we really call this a dip in this application? I would say it’s more of a sauce. Is that a jerk thing to say?

  2. Tom 19 April, 2009 at 7:20 pm

    I really struggled when I was writing this with the dip/sauce question. My other examples, guacamole and hummus, are obviously dips, so it would have been awkward to segue into sauce. Also, I think tarator is more commonly used as a dip than a sauce and even with our meatballs it did not go over everything as you might expect a sauce to. Also, it did not contain any part of the main dish, like drippings, so I think that lends more credence to the dip argument.

    Posts linking to this post

  1. MARTHAANDTOM » Friday Fish Fry 23 March, 2010 at 9:27 am

    […] than it had the first two times, I steered away from it for the sauce, choosing instead my old Turkish friend tarator. Tarator is, after all, a natural accompaniment to fish. To be extra fancy, I sieved the tarator […]

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