I’m half Assyrian. I grew up eating a dish called Zazich (prounounced jah-jek). It’s a cheese spread that we’d smear on everything and eat like it was going out of style. It’s a really great dish to eat if you think your LDL is too low.
Here is the zazich recipe. I didn’t even know how it was spelled until I looked it up on Google recently! There are slight differences between recipes I’ve found online and what my family did, but the overall recipe is fairly consistant.
- 16-ounce package small curd cottage cheese
- 2 large packages (6- or 8-ounce cream
- 1 tablespoon butter, room temperature (optional, but yum)
- 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro (Use Italian parsley if you think cilantro tastes like dish soap. Some people hate it)
- 1/2 cup chopped fresh dill
- 2 hot yellow hungarian peppers / banana peppers, diced. (omit if you are a sissy pansy)
Add all ingredients to mixing bowl and blend. I use a hand held blender to smooth out the cottage cheese curds. They’re kinda nasty lookin’ otherwise. When you are done blending, put it back in the fridge. It will be about 24 hours before all the herb flavors release into the dip. Add a little salt if you wish. Spread it on bread, toast, bagels, pita. Rub it on your assneck, I don’t give a shit.
If you want it to be lower fat you can use use half the cream cheese, as we did when I was a kid, but fat is what makes everything taste good. Growing up, we never measured anything. It was a pint container of cottage cheese, a standard stick of cream cheese, a “bunch” of cilantro, a “bunch” of dill, and that was it. If you have cilantro or dill left over it won’t kill you to just throw it in. More flavor, ya know? I never liked hot peppers as a child. Now I can’t get enough. Use them if you wish.
When I got older I discovered all the other middle eastern cuisines as well as world cuisine. I love Assyrian food because I grew up with it, but I think Lebanese food is far superior. (My grandmother is going to haunt me from the grave for admitting that). Learning to cook world cuisine has altered how I approach family recipes.
I realized I could make a fantastic tzatziki while using the flavors of Assyrian zazich. We never made tzatziki when I was a kid, so I had to make up my own that still adhered to the flavors common in my family’s recipes.
Here is what I came up with:
- 1 pint full fat greek-style plain yogurt.
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh dill
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro (Use Italian parsley if you think cilantro tastes like dish soap. I said it before: Some people hate it)
- 1 tsp smashed fresh garlic
- 1/2 – 1 tsp salt (start with a half and add more to taste)
- 1/2 tsp paprika
- 1 tsp pepper
- 2 tsp lemon juice
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tbsp mayo (you can skip the mayo, but I think it rounds out the flavor. Use good mayo, not some Miracle Whip bullshit)
- 1 medium cucumber (I leave on the skin)
I place the pepper, salt, and garlic in a mortar and smash the hell out of it with a pestle until it is a paste. Slice the cucumbers thin and then dice them. I use a truffle shaver, but I am a douchebag. Put the minced cucumber into a mixing bowl along with your garlic paste.
Add in a pint of full fat plain greek yogurt. I prefer Straus Greek Yogurt. Greek yogurt is strained so it is rich and almost as creamy as cream cheese. Any yogurt will work but dairy fat makes it taste better and it should be tart enough to gag a Bulgarian plummer.
Add in the remaining ingredients and mix well. Place it in the fridge and give it 24 hours for all the herbs to mingle with the dairy fat. Put it on kabobs, rice, pita. Rub it on your pintits, I don’t give a shit!
1 cup Italian bread crumbs. (For Assyrian, use 1 cup cooked rice instead)
1 small onion, minced. (I use a food processor)
½ cup finely grated Parmesan cheese. (For Assyrian, either omit or use feta cheese)
½ cup chopped fresh basil leaves
½ cup chopped fresh Italian parsley leaves. (For Assyrian, use cilantro instead)
1 tablespoon tomato paste. (For Assyrian, this is optional)
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 pound ground beef
1 pound ground pork. (For Assyrian, try ground lamb instead of pork. Or a combination of beef, pork, lamb)
Extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
In a large bowl, mix all the ingredients and knead until thoroughly combined.
Roll into 1-2 inch balls and place on foil-covered baking sheet. Drizzle each meatball with olive oil and bake for 20 minutes or until cooked through. I check with a thermometer until the internal temperature of the meatballs reach 165°F.