Come Over to Chris’ Kitchen (or C.O.C.K.) - Mast-o-khiar

It’s been one week since my last post. This is not because I had nothing to say. On the contrary, it is because I had absolutely nothing to say. I was giving this some thought this morning, and became determined that there would be some form of content from me today. Unfortunately, determination does not necessarily inspire quality.  I mulled this realization over, when suddenly, I realized that we didn’t care about quality before, so why start caring now?  Fuck it, I might as well just write about something tasty! And then, an idea was born.  I could just give you guys a really half-assed, non-specific recipe for one of my favorite dishes, and I could make it a regular feature!  But, what would I call it?  Cheffin’ with Chris?  No…  Chef Chris and the Crazy Cabbage?  Bah!  Cheffin’ it up with Monsieur Chris?  Ooh, fancy, but pass… I know!  Come Over to Chris’ Kitchen!  It’s perfect, but a bit long.  I suppose I could just use the acronym when I need to shorten it.  C.O.C.K. it is!  Our first C.O.C.K. Creation will be something that has been in my top 3 favorite dishes since I was a kid.  Mast-o-khiar!

Mast-o-khiar (pronounciation: mast = “m - ahhh - st”; o = like the o in “door”; khiar = kh (a sound native English speakers will not be familiar with.  Almost like clearing the top of your throat), i (like deer), ar (like car)) is a Persian dish that combines plain yogurt, cucumbers, salt, and mint.  This combination can be modified.  For example, Lindsey hates mint in foods, so we swapped it for garlic salt.  I will demonstrate both preparations, however, for your benefit.

Now, here’s where we get scientific and precise (except not at all).  By this I mean that there will be no measurements or quantifiable instructions for creating this dish, because I just don’t care enough to measure shit.  I make it look good and taste good.  When it meets those two requirements, it’s done.  So let’s get started!  First off, grab some plain yogurt.  My preferred brand of yogurt is Mountain High.  It has a great tangy flavor and smooth texture.

Grab a bowl, and start putting yogurt in.  Keep in mind that when you mix in the cucumbers and spices, the available space in the bowl will decrease, so don’t put TOO much yogurt.  My general rule of thumb is to put enough yogurt that, after cucumbers are mixed in, provides me with at least two or three chunks of cucumber per spoon.  This is not measured, it is simply something I eyeball, so good luck with that.

Once you’ve placed the yogurt in the bowl, grab a cucumber.  There are two types of cucumbers I like to use for Mast-o-khiar.  First, the standard cucumber, what we’ll be using today:

This cucumber has a fairly smooth skin to it, as you can see in the photograph.  With this style of cucumber, I almost ALWAYS peel it before using.  I am not overly fond of the texture of this skin, and prefer leaving it out of my dish.  The second type of cucumber I like to use is the English Cucumber:

As you can see, the texture of the skin is not as smooth as that of the standard cucumber.  I will generally only peel this cucumber before use if there are blemishes on the skin that I find unsightly or unappetizing.  The texture (and flavor) of the English Cucumber’s skin is, in my humble opinion, highly superior to that of the standard cucumber, so I am perfectly happy leaving it on.

Once you have peeled your cucumber, or not, depending on your own preference, start slicing it into standard thickness cucumber slices.  After that, cut each slice into quarters, leaving you with a large number of wedge shaped cucumber pieces.  Dump these pieces into the yogurt you placed into the bowl earlier, and mix them in.  If it feels too chunky for you, add more yogurt.  If it feels too thin, add more cucumbers or remove some yogurt.

Now that you have the basic structure of the dish down, it is time to give it some extra flavor.  I will cover two different flavor profiles: Salt/Mint and Garlic Salt.  First, the flavor I am most accustomed to, and have loved since childhood: Salt/Mint.  Take your dish and start sprinkling regular table salt in.  Sprinkle some, mix, taste, and repeat until the saltiness is where you like it.  Once you’ve sufficiently salted it, we’ll add the mint for additional flavor and for appearance.  Now, we’re not just going to start putting in fresh mint leaves.  We’re going to use a dried, crushed mint leaf for the job.  It should look a little something like this:

I prefer the mint to be crushed as fine as possible (I swear, officer, that’s mint), but again, your preference.  Slowly start sprinkling in the dried mint, mixing, tasting, and repeating until you feel the flavors are harmonious.

The second flavor profile is Garlic Salt.  I had never tried this until I discovered that Lindsey disliked mint in her foods.  We decided to try using Garlic Salt.  Her preferred garlic salt is made by Lawry’s, and includes diced parsley mixed in.

The procedure is exactly the same, except there is one less step.  Slowly sprinkle, mix, taste, and repeat until you are happy with the taste.

Once you’re done with either of these preparations, your dish is ready to enjoy!  There are many ways to enjoy this dish.  It can be enjoyed on its own, as a dip, as a side, as a sauce, or anything else you can conceive.  I use it as a dip for my chips, as a side for dishes, as a sauce for spaghetti (don’t knock it ’til you’ve tried it), a dressing for salad, a dressing for pizza, a dip for donuts, and so much more.  I love this dish.  It goes with EVERYTHING.  End of story.

Look upon my works, ye hungry, and consume!

-[insert NOM NOM NOM here]

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