Yogurt Cucumber Salad ~ Refreshing and Healthy

October 4th, 2012

Greek cuisine has tzatziki; Indian cuisine has raita, and Arab cuisine has its own version of this cool and tangy yogurt cucumber salad. A beloved side dish in Lebanon, Turkey and all over the Middle East, this salad is easy to prepare, refreshing and healthy. It’s a perfect accompaniment to rice dishes such as maqluba (rice and chicken) or mujaddara (rice and lentils). It can also be served with bread as part of a mezze table.

Yogurt is a staple food in the Arab kitchen. Made from fermented milk, yogurt is regarded as a health-giving, healing substance. In the Middle East, it’s believed that yogurt aids digestion and contributes to longevity.

For this recipe, use whatever type of yogurt you prefer. I typically use skimmed yogurt, but for guests, I use lowfat. If you prefer the thick and creamy variety, use whole yogurt or substitute part of the yogurt for lebneh or yogurt cheese (strained yogurt).

As for cucumbers, use the small ones available in Middle Eastern and Asian markets, if available, as they are more flavorful and tender. Otherwise, large cucumbers will also work.

When entertaining or pressed for time, this side dish can be prepared in advance. If you’re feeding a crowd, prepare this recipe with a 1 kilo tub of yogurt and use 2½ parts the other ingredients. Below is our family recipe.

Yogurt Cucumber Salad ~ serves 4

2 small cucumbers or 1 large

2 cups (400 g) plain yogurt (skimmed, lowfat, or whole)

1 clove garlic, minced

1 teaspoon dried mint

¼ teaspoon salt

Fresh mint leaves (optional garnish)


  1. Peel and finely chop or shred the cucumbers. Sprinkle with pinch of salt and (time permitting) leave in strainer to drain for 10 – 20 minutes.
  2. Discard any liquid from the yogurt and mix with the dried mint, garlic, and salt. After cucumbers have drained, mix with yogurt.
  3. Taste and adjust the seasonings if necessary. Garnish with fresh mint and serve immediately or chill.

Question: How do you like to serve Yogurt Cucumber Salad?

  1. Rupert Neil Bumfrey (@rupertbu)
    October 5th, 2012 at 00:21 | #1

    Really Holly, you think this makes up for a lack of activity!

    Even men have been known to whip this up, and without a recipe book, or as I prefer them to be called, Food Manual 😉

    • Holly S. Warah
      Holly S. Warah
      October 5th, 2012 at 00:36 | #2

      Hilarious. Nothing slips past you, Rupert… You’d be surprised how many people ask me for this recipe. People even ask me how to make mint tea! Well, I’m impressed that you know how to make this. I thought you only did takeout. Watch out, because my next recipe is going to be even simpler.

  2. October 5th, 2012 at 12:24 | #3

    Glad you are back!

    The photo took my breath away. Looks a thousand times better than my pathetic version. I make mine with a Sudanese twist. No mint and sprinkled with cumin.
    Look forward to the next post.

    I love your culture posts. More pleaseee:)

    • Holly S. Warah
      Holly S. Warah
      October 16th, 2012 at 14:13 | #4

      Zvezdana, Thanks for stopping by & for the encouraging words. I will try this salad with the cumin…. We put cumin in just about everything else, so why not this, too? 😉

  3. Deborah Mustafa
    October 5th, 2012 at 13:54 | #5

    Salaam Holly,

    Originally I learned to make the Sudani version like Zvezdana mentioned with cumin, however, we add black seed. But personally I like to use fresh dill with the black seed. and it is my kids favorite.


    • Holly S. Warah
      Holly S. Warah
      October 16th, 2012 at 14:11 | #6

      Wow, Deborah. Sounds delicious. Would never think of the black seed or fresh dill. Will have to try that.

  4. October 9th, 2012 at 22:49 | #7

    Oh I love this on a hot day! In Persian cuisine there is a similar yogurt called Mast-o- Hiar (yogurt and cucumber). Sometimes in the summer we add walnuts, grapes, raisins, and similar items then dip thin (dried/crispy) lavash bread in it for lunch. I’ve never tried adding garlic but I bet that would be incredible 🙂 I will have to do that next time!

    • Holly S. Warah
      Holly S. Warah
      October 16th, 2012 at 14:15 | #8

      HI Molly!! Oh my gosh: Walnuts, grapes and raisins. Sounds heavenly.

  5. Lee Qarib
    October 28th, 2012 at 22:05 | #9

    Hi! Just wondering if you have a good recipe for Arabic spice mixture so I can make my own ?

    • Holly S. Warah
      Holly S. Warah
      December 21st, 2012 at 17:24 | #10

      Hi Lee … Hmm I can’t think of any mixture that I make on my own. Some of the spices that are associated with Arabic cuisine are zataar, sumac, cumin, cinnamon … There are a few mixtures that come to mind: There is an allspice mixture with cloves, cinnamon & nutmeg that is used in meat pies. There is also a Zataar mixture made with thyme & sesames. I buy both of these in an Arabic grocery store, rather than make them myself. I have heard of a Seven Spice Mixture, but have never used it. However, you may be able to find recipes for these online. Best wishes & Happy Cooking. 🙂

  6. Lindsay
    November 4th, 2013 at 05:48 | #11

    My Palestinian mother in law taught me a secret for the khyar bi laban salad. Put a spoonful of tahini and the juice of a small lemon to give the yogurt a little more flavor. It’s delicious!

    • Holly S. Warah
      Holly S. Warah
      November 6th, 2013 at 20:49 | #12

      HI Lindsay,
      Thanks for reading and commenting. I will give your mother-in-law’s tip a try. Sounds good!

  7. shaymaa
    March 24th, 2014 at 15:04 | #13

    Hello Holly,

    could you please share your e-mail as I need to update my database.


Comments are closed.