Bulgarian summer musings: tarator

This weekend we got to have two Sundays (today is yet another religious holiday I cannot relate to, for which we get a day off). And in that second Sunday I am feeling a bit nostalgic. I have Bulgaria on my mind. I believe all of us have in our heads these summer treats we cannot imagine life without. Muse for a second or two, you’ll know what I mean and also what that means for you. Bulgarian summers are tasteless without… tarator. The name has this raw hard sound to it and you might be suspicious at first, but should you give it a chance, it is in fact a refreshing encounter and you might want more. Like most Bulgarians, in fact. 🙂

It’s the kind of recipe I don’t need a recipe for. It’s become a matter of the senses. I am sure you feel the same about your own variety of summer treat you thought about just a minute ago.

So this is essentially a cold soup and here’s how it goes. We start with garlic. I will never get tired of photographing garlic.




Then the cucumber. There is a particular way of chopping cucumbers for tarator one needs years of practicing to master. I will never be as good as my mother but I try.


No chopping boards! All you need is good grip, a sharp knife and precision. Should you end up with a Bulgarian mother-in-law, ladies, this is a must.


The next key ingredient (actually there are so few ingredients, only 5, that they are all key) – dill. Of course, fresh is better but we’ll make do with what we have on this Sunday Monday. Okay, there is a 6th ingredient, which makes things even better – chopped walnuts. Highly recommended. Then olive oil and salt. The fusion already makes me dreamy…

And then we get to make it a soup – enter yoghurt. I use some Greek variety because it’s a bit more fatty and so can fill you up slightly more. The watery Dutch “yoghurt” probably won’t work equally well. As for amounts, trust your senses, taste and see how you feel about it.


Reduce with water, enough to make it liquid but not too watery. As for salt, in this case more is better so feel free to be generous with it.

Put it in the fridge for a couple of hours to cool down or add a few ice cubes if you cannot wait. That is what I did. And I kept dreaming. Of a beautiful summer.




P.S. The framed image is an old photo I took at the Black Sea (Sozopol) when I was 14 and had just gotten into photography. The beautiful Minolta SLR I took this photo with is still back in Bulgaria. I have the feeling some day we’ll meet again.

5 thoughts on “Bulgarian summer musings: tarator

  1. Madam, here on the island, we also add the juice of half a freshly pressed lemon, just to give that extra sour edge to it 😉


  2. When the temperature goes above 30°, which happens these days even in The Hague, I feel the urge to make a proper gazpacho to feel like I am in by my Mediterranean shores. Next time I will try this recipe. I’d like to taste what summer is like by the Black Sea….


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