Mast-o khiar is a delicious Middle Eastern yoghurt-based side dish full of Persian flavours and pleasing textures. The creamy yoghurt base gets crunch from toasted walnuts, sweetness from plump golden raisins and loads of flavour from fresh herbs and fragrant rose petals.
It’s a simple side dish you can whip up in no time – perfect for any occasion.
Serve it with warm pita bread, as a dip for crudité, a side with grilled meat or crispy Middle Eastern falafel. Or keep reading for more serving suggestions and Persian recipes. It’s sure to become a new family favourite.
Why you’ll love mast-o khiar
Mast-o khiar is sweet, savoury and vibrantly fresh. Think creamy Greek yoghurt, sweet raisins, crunchy walnuts and fragrant rose petals with a hit of fresh herbs.
If you need more convincing, here are a few reasons why you’ll love this mast-o khiar recipe as much as I do:
- It’s easy to make: This Persian cucumber and yoghurt dip comes together in seconds once you’ve soaked the raisins.
- It’s versatile: Serve mast-o khiar as a side dish for grilled meats, as part of a mezze spread, or scoop it into pita pockets with falafel for an easy lunch. Or serve it alongside other Persian dishes like kuku sabzi.
- It’s delicious: Sweet raisins, crunchy walnuts, fresh herbs, and fragrant rose petals coated in creamy yoghurt make the perfect Persian side for any meal.
What is mast-o khiar?
Mast-o khiar translates to yoghurt with cucumber. The classic Persian yoghurt dish typically contains strained yoghurt, cucumbers, and a medley of aromatic herbs and spices. It is a refreshing and light side dish, often served as part of a larger meal in Middle Eastern cuisines.
The main ingredients of mast-o khiar are plain yoghurt, Persian cucumbers, and a blend of traditional Persian herbs and spices such as golden raisins, dried mint, fresh mint, dried rose petals, and olive oil.
These ingredients combine to create a creamy and flavourful Persian yoghurt sauce perfect for dipping, spreading on sandwiches, and serving alongside grilled meats.
Mast-o khiar ingredients and substitutes
This Persian yoghurt dip is creamy, refreshing and flavour-packed. The combination of fresh cucumber, creamy yoghurt, earthy herbs and sweet sultanas is simply heavenly.
And the recipe is flexible. Use what you have to create that refreshing combination of sweet, savoury and earthy flavours.
- Golden raisins (sultanas): I love the sweet-tart flavours of golden raisins in this yoghurt sauce. But use regular raisins or currants if that’s what you have.
- Persian cucumber: Persian cucumbers are small cucumbers with thin skin and few seeds. If you don’t have any, use half an English cucumber – about 150 grams (5 ounces) worth. Some recipes call for grated cucumber. But I find it leads to a watery dip, and much prefer the crunch of cucumber cubes.
- Greek yoghurt: Use full-fat Greek yoghurt for the creamiest dip. Or, if you have plain yoghurt that is not thick and creamy already, strain it in a muslin cloth for a few hours as though you are making labneh.
- Herbs: Using dried and fresh herbs adds beautifully complex flavours. But you can use only dried herbs or fresh dill and fresh mint leaves if that is what you have.
- Extra virgin olive oil: I am not very prescriptive when it comes to oil preferences in cooking. But in an uncooked Middle Eastern dip like this, good-quality extra virgin olive oil really makes a difference. So reach for the good stuff, or feel free to leave it out.
- Garlic: I grate my garlic clove with a microplane, but you can also pound it into a paste with a pinch of salt. Or substitute with a teaspoon of garlic powder.
- Toasted walnuts: Toasting walnuts briefly in a hot pan boosts the flavour, but you can skip the toasting if your chopped walnuts are untoasted and you’re in a rush. Pistachios or pine nuts make a delicious substitute.
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper: Use it to season the dip to taste. Kosher salt or sea salt is perfect.
- Dried rose petals (optional): I adore edible rose petals’ subtly sweet and floral flavours. But you can omit them if you don’t, or substitute with a pinch of ground cardamom stirred into the yoghurt.
How to make mast-o khiar
This creamy and refreshing Persian cucumber salad is versatile and utterly delicious. And it’s also super easy to make. Simply prep your ingredients, mix everything together, taste and adjust the seasoning, and you’re ready to serve.
Step 1: Prep the ingredients
Start by prepping your ingredients. In a small bowl, cover the raisins with boiling water and allow them to rehydrate for 10 minutes. Then, drain them well.
Peel and dice the cucumber.
Grate or pound the garlic clove into a paste with a pinch of salt. Chop the fresh dill and mint, and measure out the dried mint.
Step 2: Make the dip
Grab a large bowl and add the yoghurt, rehydrated raisins, cucumber, fresh dill, fresh mint, dried mint, olive oil, and grated garlic.
Mix together, then season with salt and pepper to taste – I use half a teaspoon of salt and a generous grind of black pepper.
If you’re not serving the yoghurt dip straight away, cover the bowl and refrigerate until serving.
Step 3: Get ready to serve
Just before serving, stir in the toasted walnuts and garnish with crumbled rose petals.
Mast-o khiar is a classic Persian yoghurt-based side dish packed with layers of flavours and textures. Here are some ideas for serving this versatile cucumber and yoghurt dip.
Serve it as a yoghurt dip: Serve the mast-o khiar as a dip with flatbread, pita, or lavash. Or simply scoop it with freshly cut vegetables like carrots, celery and bell peppers. Try this quick-and-easy yoghurt flatbread recipe.
Serve it as a salad topping: Top your Arabic salad (or simple green salad) with spoonfuls of mast-o khiar for a creamy and refreshing salad.
Serve it as a classic Persian side dish: Mast-o khiar is a great side dish for any Middle Eastern meal. Serve it with a plate of grilled chicken kebab, beef kofta, or Persian rice. Or for a vegetarian main, try roasted shawarma-style cauliflower. And for a light brunch or lunch, serve it with kuku sabzi (Persian herb frittata).
Serve it with falafel: The cucumber yoghurt sauce is an excellent accompaniment for crispy Middle Eastern falafel on your next falafel platter. Or spoon it into a falafel pita sandwich. Find more ideas to add to your falafel and Persian yoghurt mezze spread.
Frequently asked questions
Tzatziki is a Greek dip made with yoghurt, cucumbers, garlic, and herbs. Mast-o khiar is a Persian dip made with yoghurt, cucumbers, garlic, herbs, and walnuts. It can also include other Persian ingredients like edible rose petals and golden raisins.
Mix yoghurt, diced cucumber, fresh garlic paste, salt, black pepper, dried mint, and chopped walnuts. And add fresh mint, fresh dill and sultanas if you have them. Then garnish with dried rose petals.
No, English cucumbers are larger than Persian cucumbers. English cucumbers are typically wrapped in plastic in the supermarket, while Persian cucumbers are available in bunches. Persian cucumbers are crunchy with very few seeds.
No, mini cucumbers are even smaller than Persian cucumbers and usually have a sweeter flavour. Mini cucumbers are ideal for snacking. And Persian cucumbers are perfect for Middle Eastern-style salads.
Middle Eastern recipes to serve with mast-o khiar
- Harissa roasted cauliflower: A buttery, spicy and indulgent vegetarian main to serve with Persian yoghurt.
- Barley pilaf with rose harissa: An easy Middle Eastern pilaf to pair with mast-o khiar.
- Persian eggplant stew: Slow-roasted eggplant stew with lentils and black lime.
- Arabic salad: A classic Middle Eastern-style chopped salad to serve alongside the yoghurt side dish.
- Kuku sabzi: An easy Persian herb frittata recipe packed with greens and just enough eggs to hold it all together.
- ¼ cup golden raisins
- 1 Persian cucumber, peeled and diced
- 1½ cups Greek yoghurt, or full cream plain yoghurt
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh dill
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh mint
- 1 teaspoon dried mint
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 garlic clove, grated or pounded into a paste with a pinch of salt
- ¼ cup toasted walnuts, roughly chopped
- salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 1 teaspoon dried rose petals (optional)
- In a small bowl, cover the raisins with boiling water. Allow them to rehydrate for 10 minutes, then drain.
- In a larger bowl, combine the plumped-up raisins, cucumber, yoghurt, fresh dill, fresh mint, dried mint, olive oil, and garlic. Mix together, then season with salt and pepper to taste – I use ½ teaspoon of salt and a generous grind of black pepper. Cover and refrigerate the bowl if you're not serving it straight away.
- Stir in the walnuts and garnish with crumbled rose petals before serving.
- The combination of fresh and dried herbs adds beautifully complex flavours. But you can use only dried herbs (1 teaspoon each of dried dill and mint) or only fresh herbs if that is what you have.
- If you don’t have Persian cucumbers, substitute half a regular cucumber worth about 150 grams (5 ounces).
- See ingredients and substitutes for more alternatives.
- Refrigerate leftover yoghurt dip in an airtight container for up to 3 days.