I think my first encounter with haydari was in one of those raki-mezze places in the back alleys of Beyoglu/Istanbul.
For many years I didn’t drink raki (if you don’t know what it is, click here). I just didn’t like the taste and didn’t really appreciate or understand the whole “ritual” of drinking it with delicious mezzes and a company of good friends. Then one day, with my roommate Didem, her boyfriend Deniz at the time and some other friends, we had a raki and fish night and on that night I fell in love with this drink!
After that night, I went to raki-mezze evenings many times to friends’ places or those restaurants I mentioned at the beginning. In those restaurants, as soon as you sit on a table, they bring their mezze tray to the table and everyone chooses one or two (or more!) of their favourite mezzes. I always chose haydari whenever if it was available, and any eggplant dish as the second choice.
In all those different restaurants, I ate many variations of haydari. There were small differences between every one of them therefore I’m not sure if there is one universal recipe of haydari. But here I will give you my favourite one.
You can use haydari as a dip, you can spread it on a nice crusty bread and top with some other fresh ingredients like what I did in the photos, or you can just eat it as a side dish with one main hot dish. The options are unlimited. And yes, if you can, find some raki and try them altogether – you won’t regret it! Enjoy!
Difficulty: ★☆☆ (Easy)
25 gr. butter (you can also use olive oil if you want it lighter, but butter makes everything better!)
2 tsp dried mint
150 gr. thick plain yogurt (Turkish, Greek or Bulgarian. Try to find as thick as possible)
50 gr. feta, crumbled
2 garlic cloves, mashed
salt to taste
optional: a bunch of dill, to serve
1. In a pan on medium heat, melt butter. When almost all butter is melted, add dried mint and stir with a wooden spoon / spatula, until you get roasted but not burned mint, for a couple of minutes. Take away from the heat and put aside to cool down.
2. In a bowl, put yogurt and feta and mix with a fork or spoon.
3. Add butter/mint mixture and garlic and continue mixing.
4. Add salt according to your taste (add it slowly, because feta is rather salty too so you might end up with too salty haydari if you put a lot of salt at once). Mix all the ingredients well one last time and serve. Decorate with fresh dill if you like. Enjoy!