Iftar Tarator

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Jeff & Linda's Kitchen of Diversity

Tarator and Laban Sauces


One of the essential components of a Middle Eastern meal are the dressings that are served over the various dishes to bring out their flavors.  We have made two different types for our vegetarian iftar:  a sesame-based tarator spread and a garlicky yogurt sauce.  Oddly, depending upon where you live in the Middle East or Eastern Europe, this name is associated with either -- but not both -- of these very different sauces:  the former is called by this name in Turkey and the Middle East, while the latter is called this exact same thing in the Balkans.  Similar yogurt sauces are also common in the Middle East, where they go under a number of different names, including Laban.  We’ll use the Middle Eastern nomenclature for our recipes and meal.  Both are quite easy to make, and can be served on top or along side most of the dishes in this meal.  Both recipes will make about 2 cups of sauce.


1 cup of tahini

6 large cloves of garlic

1 teaspoon of salt

½ cup lemon juice

½ cup of cold water

Place all ingredients in a blender and puree until they form a smooth, well integrated sauce with the consistency of mayonnaise.  Let the sauce rest for at least an hour to allow the flavors to meld.  It is not only excellent served with falafel inside of a split khoubz, but also makes a wonderful salad dressing.



2 cups yogurt

4 cloves garlic, crushed

1 tablespoon dry oregano

½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Salt to taste

Whisk all ingredients together in a bowl, and let rest at least an hour to allow the flavors to meld.  It is especially nice when served over grilled vegetables (ailazan) or potato kibbeh. 

For both recipes we recommend an assertive Middle Eastern garlic like Palestine or Himalayan Red.  You should use a strong, spicy oregano like Wild Zatar for the Laban.