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Açili Esme (Spicy Turkish-Style Yogurt)

From the book A Mediterranean Feast by


1 tsp. salt
4 fresh garlic cloves, peeled
¾ cup high-quality, full-fat yogurt
6 Tbsp. strained yogurt, or labna (see Note, below)
½ tsp. cayenne pepper
1 tsp. chopped dill weed
~ Extra-virgin olive oil


  1. Pound the salt and garlic together in a mortar until mushy.
  2. Blend it with the yogurt, labna, cayenne, and dill. Turn it into a bowl and swirl olive oil over the surface.


Culinate editor’s note: To strain yogurt, measure it into a small strainer set over a bowl and leave it for three or more hours; discard the strained liquid. Alternatively, for this recipe you could use Greek-style yogurt or even sour cream.

Related article: A sauce for all seasons

This content is from the book A Mediterranean Feast by Clifford A. Wright.

There are 3 comments on this item
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Average Rating 4.5
66% recommend this recipe
1. by Margaret Studer on Sep 15, 2010 at 6:09 PM PDT
Rating: four

I can just picture this with beans, roasted tomato halves, over whole wheat pasta, binding garbanzo bean salad, as dip for rye bread toast strips. It would be good for so many things.
I am going to try this for one of my New Year’s dishes.

2. by Heather on Oct 14, 2010 at 5:13 AM PDT
Rating: five

This is delicious and so easy to throw together. I used 4 garlic cloves in my first batch, and it REALLY had kick. It was delicious, but I cut back to 3 cloves in my second batch. This has already become a staple in my kitchen.

3. by Regina on Oct 21, 2014 at 10:35 AM PDT

I keep coming back to this sauce recipe years later! just wanted to add my rave reviews!

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