Tarator (Таратор) Recipe

Lastest Updated April 19, 2024
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Dive into the vibrant culinary culture of Bulgaria with Tarator (Таратор) – a chilled cucumber soup that’s more than just a refreshing dish. You’re one step away from discovering a nutritious summer escape your palate will thank you for.

Its simplicity, combined with its delightful flavors, makes it a delightful addition to any menu. Here is an easy-to-follow guide for homemaking of this delicious Tarator recipe.

Tarator1

Tarator: Bulgaria’s Signature Summer Soup

Tarator is a traditional Bulgarian soup perfect for hot summer days. Its creation is an act of simplicity – cucumbers finely sliced, stirred into a cooling concoction of yogurt, with water added to reach the perfect consistency.

A burst of flavor is introduced with the addition of crushed garlic, walnuts, a pinch of salt, a drizzle of oil, and a dash of dill.

Best savored chilled, this refreshing soup can play the role of an appetizer or take center stage as a main dish. Its unique flavor profile artfully balances the sweet crunch of cucumber with tangy yogurt and aromatic herbs.

In Bulgaria, Tarator is more than just a dish; it’s a summer tradition, often enjoyed alongside other local delicacies. Its popularity resonates with the season’s desire for something light, refreshing, and absolutely delectable.

Tools

  • Bowl: Medium to large in size. This is where you’ll thoroughly combine all the Tarator ingredients.
  • Cutting board: It will provide the perfect surface for chopping ingredients.
  • Knife: Must be sharp. You’ll use this tool to dice the cucumber and dill finely.
  • Garlic press: Essential for crushing garlic cloves to enrich the Tarator with a robust garlic flavor.
  • Fork: A common kitchen utensil. Not only will it be used for stirring the Tarator mixture in the bowl, but it’s also handy for many other kitchen tasks.
Tarator Tools

Ingredients

  • Bulgarian yogurt: For an authentic Tarator, Bulgarian yogurt is ideal due to its unique flavor and texture, derived from local bacteria used in its fermentation. If unavailable, Greek yogurt is the closest substitute, or alternatively, plain yogurt. However, since Bulgarian yogurt has a sour taste, consider adding vinegar to replicate that tanginess when using other yogurts.
  • Cucumber: You will need one large crunchy cucumber, chop into very small pieces. If you want the pieces to be smaller, you can grate the cucumber on a coarse grater.
  • Water: Use cold filtered water. Add one or two cups of water depending on the consistency you want your Tarator to have, thicker or more liquid.
  • Walnuts: Use raw walnuts, they must be ground or finely chopped.
  • Dill: Use fresh dill, it gives great flavor to Taratora and adds to its refreshing taste.
  • Oil: You can use sunflower oil or olive oil.
  • Salt: Use salt to taste to flavor Tarator.
Tarator Ingredients

Instructions

Step 1: Prepare The Cucumber

Start by cutting the cucumber into very small pieces, as shown in the images. You can peel the cucumber beforehand if you prefer. After slicing, transfer the cucumber pieces into a bowl.

Tarator Step 1 Prepare the Cucumber

Step 2: Add Fresh Dill

Next, finely chop fresh dill and add it to the bowl with the cucumber.

Tarator Step 2 Add Fresh Dill

Step 3: Incorporate Garlic And Walnuts

Crush the garlic and walnuts, then add them to the cucumber and dill. Use a fork to mix the ingredients well.

Tarator Step 3 Incorporate Garlic and Walnuts

Step 4: Stir In The Yogurt

Pour the yogurt into the bowl, over the mixture. Add water as desired, then stir again to combine everything.

Tarator Step 4 Stir in the Yogurt

Step 5: Season Your Tarator

Now it’s time to season the mixture. Add salt to taste, then drizzle olive oil over the mixture. Mix everything well one last time.

Tarator Step 5 Season Your

Step 6: Chill And Serve

Place your Tarator in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes to chill before serving. When ready, portion out the chilled Tarator into bowls or soup plates for serving.

Tarator Step 6 Chill and Serve
Tarator Step 6 Chill and Serve1

Tips And Tricks

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  • Perfecting the Cucumber: From personal experience, dicing the cucumbers into small squares makes them easier to eat and provides a satisfying crunch to the Tarator. I found that diced cucumbers give the soup a better texture than grated ones. For an optimal texture, I recommend using a mix of diced and shredded cucumber.
  • Garlic Blending: It’s essential to mince the garlic as finely as possible to ensure it blends smoothly with the other ingredients, contributing to the overall flavor without overpowering it.
  • Yogurt Type: In my experience, full-fat yogurt lends richness to the Tarator. If you’re watching your fat intake, a reduced-fat yogurt is a fine alternative. For an authentic flavor, Bulgarian yogurt is the top choice due to its distinctive taste from unique local bacteria used in fermentation.

If unavailable, Greek yogurt is the closest substitute. However, considering Bulgarian yogurt’s sourness, adding vinegar to other yogurts helps replicate that tanginess.

  • Yogurt Variations: In the rural regions of Bulgaria, the Tarator recipe sometimes incorporates sour cow’s, sheep’s, or goat’s milk instead of plain yogurt. Feel adventurous? Try using curdled milk or buttermilk in your recipe. These variations can add a unique twist to your Tarator.
  • Chilling is Key: For optimal taste and a cooling effect during warm months, always serve Tarator chilled. If you like, toss in a few ice cubes for extra chill.
  • Adjusting Soup Thickness: The thickness of the Tarator can be varied by adjusting the water quantity. I often use mineral water, but chilled filtered water works just as well.
  • Vegetable Variety: While cucumber is the mainstay, you can experiment with other finely chopped veggies like radishes, romaine lettuce, carrots, celery, pumpkin, or zucchini.
  • Nutty Enhancement: Walnuts elevate the flavor profile. For an added touch, consider toasting or oven-drying the walnuts.
  • Customize Your Tarator: While traditional recipes use sunflower or olive oil and sometimes walnuts, feel free to omit these based on your preference. Similarly, garlic and dill, the usual seasonings, can also be left out if desired.

Enchanting Ways To Serve Your Tarator

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  • Serving Suggestions: In the spirit of Bulgarian tradition, Tarator is a wonderful starter or a light main for those summer gatherings.
  • Between Meals: Want a refreshing mid-meal pick-me-up? Tarator serves just that purpose, and it’s not uncommon to see it served in a glass in Bulgaria.
  • Drinks Pairing: Many locals here favor a refreshing glass of rakiya or Ouzo, both classic Bulgarian drinks to pair with their Tarator – it’s a match made in heaven!
  • Versatile Tarator: While it’s typically served as a starter soup, I often relish it as a light lunch. This simple vegetable soup is delicious on its own, but for some extra satisfaction, serve it with a chunk of crusty bread. Enjoy!

Storage Tips

Tarator can stay fresh in your fridge for up to 3 days. Just ensure you keep it in a sealed container to maintain its freshness. Before serving, give it a good stir to remix the flavors. That’s how I keep my Tarator tasting great every time!

Bulgarian Tarator Vs. Tzatziki Sauce

Similarities

Coming from the vibrant culinary tradition of Bulgaria, I can assure you that both Tarator and Tzatziki Sauce are beloved for their refreshing taste and are commonly paired with a variety of dishes.

Both concoctions feature cucumbers, yogurt, garlic, and dill, creating a harmonious blend of tangy and earthy flavors. A squeeze of lemon juice adds a zestful perk, further enhancing their similar, yet unique, profiles.

Differences

Firstly, the preparation of cucumbers distinguishes the two – Tarator uses diced cucumbers, lending a distinct texture, while Tzatziki Sauce incorporates shredded cucumbers.

Secondly, the consistency of the sauces themselves diverges. Tarator takes on a soup-like viscosity, due to the addition of water. On the other hand, Tzatziki maintains a rich, thick texture.

Finally, a unique signature touch to Tarator is the sprinkling of chopped walnuts on top, adding a delightful crunch that contrasts with the creamy base. This is a feature you won’t find in Tzatziki Sauce.

Adding to the culinary complexity, “tarator sauce” may sometimes be used interchangeably with “tzatziki sauce” in some regions. However, in my home country of Bulgaria, we hold a clear distinction: Tarator refers exclusively to our classic, soup-like dish.

Other Dishes To Try

  • Shopska Salad: This traditional Bulgarian salad is a vibrant blend of tomatoes, cucumbers, onions, peppers, and a generous topping of Bulgarian Sirene cheese. When paired with Tarator, it creates a delightful and refreshing side dish that perfectly complements the cool and creamy soup.
  • Bulgarian Supa Topcheta – Meatball Soup: A cherished Bulgarian dish, Supa Topcheta is a wholesome soup filled with hearty meatballs, nourishing vegetables, and frequently, rice or vermicelli. Ideal for a cozy, chilly day, this soup offers comfort in every spoonful.
  • Borscht: Originating from Eastern Europe, Borscht is a tangy soup known for its distinct deep red hue, thanks to the beets it contains. Much like Tarator, Borscht is an excellent representation of the rich culinary traditions of its region. The contrast between the cool Tarator and warm Borscht makes for an interesting soup selection.

FAQs

The choice of peeling the cucumber for this cold cucumber soup is entirely up to you. Retaining the skin introduces more fiber and provides additional texture and color to the soup. However, if you’d rather have it peeled, that works just as well!

The taste of this tarator soup can be enhanced by preparing it at least half an hour ahead of its serving time and allowing it to chill in the refrigerator. Feel free to prepare this cucumber yogurt soup a day in advance, ensuring it’s covered, and remember to give it a good stir before serving.

While tarator enjoys a high popularity in Bulgaria, it is equally loved in several other nations, including Albania. It’s worth noting there exists a Lebanese variant of tarator, which incorporates tahini paste, though our recipe doesn’t call for it.

The flavor of tarator closely resembles a diluted version of tzatziki sauce, courtesy of its ingredients. The tartness of the plain yogurt and lemon provide a slightly bitter undertone, while the cucumbers and walnuts contribute to a fascinating textural experience. The dominating flavor comes from dill, harmoniously blended with the yogurt.

Ending Notes: Tarator Completion

Tarator

Tarator is a traditional Bulgarian soup that is not only delicious but also nutritious. Cucumbers are hydrating and packed with vitamins, while yogurt or sour milk provides probiotics and protein. It is a low-calorie option so you can enjoy it guilt-free.

I hope you’ve found this exploration into Bulgarian cuisine as fascinating as it is delicious. If you try out any of the recipes mentioned, including the refreshing Tarator, I’d love to hear about your experiences.

Please feel free to like, share, and comment on this article with your thoughts, questions, or even photos of your culinary creations. As I delve further into the world’s vast array of cuisines, your engagement and feedback are what make this journey even more exciting.

Tarator

Tarator (Таратор) – Bulgarian Chilled Cucumber Soup

Ever wondered what makes Tarator (Таратор) – Chilled Cucumber Soup, a beloved Bulgarian delicacy? Let me guide you through the refreshing flavors of this nourishing soup.
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Course: light main course, Starter
Cuisine: Bulgarian
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 10 minutes
Servings: 5 Servings
Calories: 201kcal

Ingredients

  • 1 large-sized or 2 medium-sized cucumbers
  • 3 cups of yogurt or sour milk
  • 1 or 2 cups of water
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 4 tablespoons of ground or finely chopped walnuts
  • Salt to taste
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons of chopped fresh dill

Instructions 

  • Dice the cucumber finely, as shown in the images. If you wish, you can peel it beforehand. And place in a bowl.
    Tarator Step 1 Prepare the Cucumber
  • Chop fresh dill finely and combine with the cucumber.
    Tarator Step 2 Add Fresh Dill
  • Add the crushed garlic and walnuts to the bowl and mix well with a fork.
    Tarator Step 3 Incorporate Garlic and Walnuts
  • Pour the yogurt over the stirred mixture and add the desired amount of water.
    Tarator Step 4 Stir in the Yogurt
  • Season the mixture with salt according to your taste then drizzle the olive oil over the mixture and mix well.
    Tarator Step 5 Season Your
  • Place the tarator in the refrigerator to chill for at least 30 minutes before serving. When ready to serve, divide the chilled tarator into bowls or soup plates.
    Tarator Step 6 Chill and Serve

Video

Notes

  • The cooking time is based on 5 servings
  • I’ve found that diced cucumbers fare better than grated ones in this recipe.
  • Full-fat yogurt enriches Tarator beautifully. However, if you’re health-conscious, reduced-fat yogurt is a suitable substitute.
  • Bulgarian yogurt is a traditional choice. If you can’t find it, Greek yogurt is the next best option.
  • To mimic the sourness of Bulgarian yogurt, consider adding a dash of vinegar.
  • Always serve your Tarator chilled for an optimal taste experience. Add a few ice cubes for an extra chill factor.
  • Control the thickness of your Tarator by adjusting the water quantity. Both mineral and chilled filtered water work well in this recipe.
  • Though cucumber is a mainstay, feel free to add other finely chopped veggies like radishes, romaine lettuce, carrots, celery, pumpkin, or zucchini.
  • While sunflower or olive oil and walnuts are traditional ingredients, they can be omitted based on your preference. The same goes for the usual seasonings, garlic, and dill.

Nutrition

Calories: 201kcal | Carbohydrates: 10g | Protein: 7g | Fat: 16g | Saturated Fat: 4g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 5g | Monounsaturated Fat: 6g | Cholesterol: 19mg | Sodium: 70mg | Potassium: 351mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 8g | Vitamin A: 203IU | Vitamin C: 3mg | Calcium: 197mg | Iron: 1mg
Mia Dimitrova

Mia Dimitrova

Content Writer

Expertise

Home Cooking, Meal Planning, Food Styling, Food Photography, Culinary Storytelling, Cooking-video Maker, European Food Content Creator, Bulgarian Food Evaluation Expert

Education

Sofia University “St. Kliment Ohridski”

  • Program: Bachelor of Fine Arts in Photography
  • Focus: Captured the soul of Bulgarian and European dishes, emphasizing the interrelation between visual appeal and culinary history.
    Completed a thesis titled “Bulgaria on a Plate: A Photographic Journey through our Gastronomic Legacy.”

European Culinary Arts Academy

  • Program: Certified Course in Food Styling
  • Focus: Gained expertise in presenting dishes from Bulgaria and beyond, understanding the intricacies of European culinary aesthetics.

Maria Dimitrova, or Mia, is a Contributing Writer from Sofia, Bulgaria. Her work beautifully intertwines the rich flavors of Bulgarian and European dishes with their visual storytelling, capturing the soul of each cuisine. Through engaging content and stunning photography, Maria explores the intricate relationship between food’s aesthetic appeal and cultural history.

Specializing in home cooking, food styling, and photography, she brings European culinary traditions to life, offering a unique glimpse into Bulgaria’s gastronomic heritage. Maria’s expertise highlights her deep appreciation for culinary art and invites her audience to embark on a flavorful journey through Europe’s diverse food landscape.

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