Haydari (Turkish Yoghurt Meze)
By Lee Jackson ↣ Published on: January 28, 2022
Haydari (haydarı) is a thick, creamy meze dish from Turkey. Strained yoghurt or labne is combined with salty cheese and herbs to create a wonderful rich and tangy dip. It’s the perfect addition to any Turkish dinner.
Haydari is a delicious addition to any Turkish meze spread. Meze is widely served in Turkey and all across the cuisines of the Mediterranean and Middle East, and this creamy, salty dip is the perfect addition to any table. Haydari is similar to cacık, which features cucumber and also the simpler Yoghurt & Garlic sauce, Haydari doesn't include cucumber and has a thicker texture to both. All are delicious!
What is Meze?
Meze (mezze) are small dishes served across the Mediterranean and Middle East. Like Spanish Tapas, they comprise tasty combinations of flavour, texture and colour. Mezze can be in the form of simple salads and dips, single ingredients like olives or pickles, cheeses and fruit and rich meat, poultry and seafood can all be incorporated too. The idea is that the table is covered with dishes that can be mixed into countless taste combinations. Meze can be served as appetisers or as the main course – see below for my meze meal plan suggestion.
Yoghurt & Cheese - the perfect combination
Haydari comprises two key ingredients; yoghurt and soft white cheese.
- Strained yoghurt = (süzme yoğurt) is a yoghurt that has been hung in muslin to drain it of its excess moisture (see how below). The results create a thick, dense and creamy consistency. Labneh is often used too. Alternatively, I've found great creamy off-the-shelf options, like Siggis Plain Yoghurt which is perfect straight out of the pot.
- Beyaz Peynir - is a soft white brine cheese produced from unpasteurized sheep, cow or goat milk. It has a sharp, salty flavour. You can find this in many Mediterranean or Middle Eastern Delicatessens. Greek Feta is a very close match and the cheese I use in this recipe. Just be sure to choose a soft feta that can be easily mashed with a fork.
How to strain yoghurt
If you can't find a good, thick yoghurt then straining your own is not difficult. Here's how:
- Dampen a piece of muslin or fine tea towel and squeeze out as much water as you can.
- Place the muslin/teatowel into a fine sieve and then put in the yoghurt.
- Place the sieve over a bowl large enough to collect the excess liquid in the bottom without touching the sieve (about a 2" gap)
- Refrigerate for 4 hours or longer (up to 24).
The yoghurt will reduce in mass and you'll be left with the dense, creamy texture you need. For 1 cup of strained yoghurt, use about 1 1/2 cups of yoghurt from the pot.
Step by Step
Making your own Haydari at home is simple. Only a few simple steps and it's good to go.
- Straining the yoghurt
Not essential, but absolutely kind of essential! It'll give a superior texture. See notes above, or the recipe below for the low down. You can use Labneh too.
- Mash the cheese with a little yoghurt
This will ensure the cheese is nice and creamy. Then mix in the remaining yoghurt and ingredients.
- Spread out and garnish
Spread the Haydari on a plate and drizzle over olive oil and sprinkle with dried mint or dill.
It's Mediterranean-style meze, so serve lots of bread or crunchy raw vegetables alongside. Below are a few suggestions for a Turkish-style meze feast.
A Turkish Meze dinner plan
Creating the perfect spread of Turkish meze small plates is a great way to feed the masses. Many can be prepared in advance to relieve the stress of cooking everything. This meal plan of my favourite Turkish recipes will feed 6-8 people, more if you're not as greedy as me.
- Haydari (this recipe)
- Turkish Beetroot Dip with Yoghurt
- Turkish Carrot Salad
- Turkish Salad (Shepherd Salad)
- Piyaz (Turkish Bean Salad)
- Onion & Sumac Salad
- Zeytinyağlı fasulye (Turkish Green Beans)
- Sheftalia (Lamb & Pork Kofte)
- Turkish Rice Pilav
Be sure to serve this with plenty of flatbreads or pita breads warmed in the oven along with a simple green salad.
Pro Tips and suggestions
- Make in advance: You can make the Haydari up to 2 days in advance. The flavours develop even more, so make it in advance, refrigerate and bring it up to room temperature for 30-40 minutes before serving.
- Cheese: Switch up Turkish Beyaz Peynir with a soft feta cheese or Farmer's Cheese. It's much easier to find.
- Herbs: Dried mint or dill are traditional, but you can also use fresh mint, dill and parsley.
- Olives: I'll often arrange some black olives to the top of my Haydari.
- Nuts: Sprinkle over some lightly roasted walnuts to Haydari for a delicious crunchy addition.
Store Haydari in the fridge for up to a week. It's not suitable for freezing.
Ready to get cooking?
You're in luck, there's no cooking required. Get ready for a taste and texture sensation with this amazing and authentic Haydari tarifi (recipe) - it's guaranteed to impress and have everyone at the table fighting for the last scoop. I hope you enjoy every last scoop!
Any Questions? (FAQ)
Have a question about Haydari? Ask me in the comments below.
Haydari vs Tzatziki?
Haydari is similar to Greek tzatziki in that it features yoghurt but unlike tzatziki it does not contain cucumber. Turkey has its own version of tzatziki called Cacık. All are delicious, creamy and perfect for meze.
How do I pronounce Haydari?
More delicious Turkish recipes
If you liked this creamy Turkish Haydari, you'll love these tasty Turkish recipes too...
Haydari (Turkish Yoghurt Meze)
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- 2 cups plain yoghurt (thick and creamy variety) (or strained - see notes below)
- 6 oz soft feta cheese (170g)
- 1 garlic clove (minced)
- ½ tsp salt
- Black pepper (freshly ground)
- ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tbsp dried mint
- ¼ cup fresh dill (chopped)
- 1 tbsp fresh parsley (chopped)
- ½ lemon (juice of)
To strain the yoghurt - Optional
- For the best results, strained yoghurt is the way to go.1. Dampen a piece of muslin or fine tea towel and squeeze out as much water as you can.2. Place the muslin/teatowel into a fine sieve and then put in the yoghurt.3. Place the sieve over a bowl large enough to collect the excess liquid in the bottom without touching the sieve (about a 2" gap)4. Refrigerate for 4 hours or longer (up to 24).
To make the Haydari
- Using a fork, mash the feta with about 2 tbsp of the yoghurt until smooth
- Add the garlic, salt, pepper, extra virgin olive oil, 1 tbsp of the mint, the dill and lemon and stir well
- Spread the mixture over a plate in a thin layer and then drizzle over a little more extra virgin olive oil. Sprinkle the remaining dried mint, the parsley and finally a spritz of lemon juice.
- Refrigerate until needed. It'll stay fresh for up to a week in the fridge (covered).
- Lightly dampen some muslin or a tea towel.
- Place over a fine sieve and add the yoghurt
- Place the sieve over a bowl with enough space to collect the water without touching the sieve and then cover the top loosely with plastic wrap or a tea towel.
- Refrigerate for 24 hours, pour out the water and you're done.
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