I think I have finally found a sauce that is ubiquitous enough to cover most any Middle Eastern dish. I am not trying to cover all ethnicity and cultures from that part of the world by any stretch as I am sure there is as much subtlety in these types of things as there are versions of hummus.
But let me share something.
When I was in Switzerland, the place we stayed in had Yotam Ottolenghi’s Jerusalem Cookbook. While we were planning each day, I thumbed through this cookbook and got a glimpse into the some of the richness, diversity, and history of Middle Eastern cooking. I knew I had to get the cookbook so one Christmas or birthday I was given this book as a gift and frankly it sat on my shelf except to pull out and stare at the colorful pictures. I was feeling a little daunted about the prospect of cooking out of it. Middle Eastern cooking has ingredients, spices, and flavor combos that just don’t fit the standard American style nor the Western European influence so many of us hail from (me in particular).
One of our birthday traditions is to make whatever dinner the person in the family wants. Some are new and bold while some are predictable. Dom wants German Chocolate cake. Liz and Bella want Martha’s Mac and Cheese. Austin likes Philly Cheese steaks. Jack = lasagna. Nate and Jackie tend to lean homemade pizza and Molly? Well, she wanted Mediterranean.
So I took the cookbook off the shelf and gave it a couple of stares. I had tried the saffron chicken/fennel salad, shakshuka, chicken with caramelized and cardamom rice, and have eaten the fattoush. All delightful.
So for Molly’s most recent birthday, I made the turkey meatballs with cumin and zucchini, the chard with tahini sauce and toasted pine nuts, and the spinach salad with toasted pita and dates. All super delicious.
I have always been a fan of tsatziki and pretty much all other yogurt-based sauces and the yogurt-sour cream sauce listed with the turkey and zucchini meatballs looked like something we might like as well. It seemed to showcase “classic” Middle Eastern flavors and adding sumac gives this sauce just another dose of relevance, and certainly taste.
We loved it.
I think it would go great on virtually any meat dish, like the classic kebab, and would be delicious squirted into a pita pocket for a gyro-style sandwich.
“Middle Eastern” Sour Cream and Sumac Sauce
1/2 cup sour cream
2/3 cup full fat Greek yogurt
1 t grated lemon zest
1 T lemon juice
1 small clove garlic, crushed
1 1/2 T olive oil
1 T sumac
1/2 t salt
1/4 t black pepper
Whisk or stir all ingredients and drizzle a little olive oil over the top for good measure.