When it’s really hot and appetite flags a cooling bowl of yogurt can be all you need. This combination, taken from the Persian kitchen is halfway between Mast-o-Khiar the cucumber-yogurt dip that accompanies many dishes and an Ash-e-Mast or yogurt soup. In my version I use full fat Indian yogurt from my local spice shop but any full fat yogurt without any additives will do. Strauss yogurt is wonderful if you can find it. Go full fat and your dish will have a lovely texture but also satisfy that heat induced peckish feeling.
I throw a kitchen sink of crisp, cooling and flavorful ingredients into the yogurt. There are cucumbers of course, either the sweet Persian variety so easily found these days or a super crisp Japanese or Armenian variety from the farmers market. You want the cucumber to be firm and generally unblemished. You don’t want softness or bitterness. I only scoop out the seeds if they are matured in which case the whole cuke might be bitter and best left aside. Since you are eating this dish with a spoon and not as a dip it doesn’t matter if the seed cavity adds more liquid to the mix. Instead of grating the cucumber I dice it so that there is more to chew.
I didn’t add any radishes to the dish above but they are a welcome hit of spice and color and crispness when not sliced too thin. Watermelon radishes in particular are lovely.I love using thinly sliced fresh shallots. The sharpness mellows in the yogurt to something more complex than just onion or green onion. Then there are the herbs. I use a combination of what one would find at the Persian grocery. There is fresh dill, tarragon, spearmint with a hint of dried mint and rosebuds. The dried rosebuds are in the spice aisle of all Persian grocery stores. They add a bitter floral aroma without the overload of rose water. Walnuts finish off the mixture and give the dish more weight as a meal. I blanch them briefly in boiling water before letting them dry then chopping and mixing them into the yogurt. It mellows their flavor and changes the texture to something akin to a very fresh walnut, more chewy crisp then just crisp.
As for the finished dish you can customize the thickness by adding iced water (or not). Serve with a piece of bread for dinner on a really hot night. Best made and left to sit for a few hours. So if you manage to make it before you leave the house in the morning while it’s still cool enough to move around the kitchen it will be ready for you at night. A cooling bowl of flavor and chew.