Snezhanka salad (салата “Снежанка”) aka Mlechna salata, is the Bulgarian version of the Greek tzatziki (tsatsiki). There are variations of this dish all over the Balkans, as well as in Iraq, Iran, India and even in the Caucasus mountains.
Snezhanka means “snow white”. The other name of this salad is “dry tarator”, because of its resemblance to the original tarator – the recipe and ingredients are almost the same. To some of you it might look like a little cheating, but it’s not quite so. The Bulgarian special touch to this recipe is the substitution of fresh cucumbers with preserved ones. So we can have our tangy Snezhanka even when cucumbers are not in season. It’s always served cold, as an appetizer or meze alongside alcoholic drinks, as a side dish or dip.
Bulgarian yogurt is similar to the Greek-style yogurt and for this recipe it must be strained to make it thicker. In the process yogurt should lose about 1/3 of its volume.
Preparation time: 10 minutes (+ few hours to drain the yogurt)
one large or two smaller cucumbers, finely chopped (fresh or pickled)
1 garlic clove, pressed (the amount of it is up to the individual’s taste, really)
4 cups of plain yoghurt (around 900 ml)
½ bunch of fresh dill, finely chopped
3 tablespoons of crushed walnuts
30 ml of olive oil
salt to taste
First of all, you need to drain the yogurt. Cover a large bowl with a piece of cheesecloth or a clean white dish towel. Dump the yogurt into the center of the cloth, bring the four corners of the cloth together and lift the yogurt. Over the bowl or sink, twist the corners to squeeze out the liquid (it will drain through the cloth). Place the cloth containing the yogurt in a strainer or colander, and place the strainer or colander in a bowl where it doesn’t touch the bottom (so that the liquid can continue to drain). Leave for 2-3 hours, until the yogurt has lost more of its liquids.
Prepare your ingredients, e.g. chop the cucumber, press the garlic clove, chop the dill and the walnuts. Now, for tsatsiki you have to drain the cucumbers too, but it is Snezhanka salad recipe, remember? In Bulgaria we just chop the cucumber in small cubes. When you’re ready, it’s time to assemble the salad.
Scoop the drained yoghurt into a large bowl and add the cucumbers, oil, dill and walnuts. Salt to the taste, stir well and put in the fridge. This salad needs few hours so the flavors can mix properly. It’s even better on the next day.
Serve Snezhanka salad as an appetizer, side dish or topping for kebabs or steaks, or as a dip for pita bread.