Minty Garlicky Yogurt Sauce

Minty Garlicky Yogurt is an oddball recipe. An oxymoron. Personally I love loads of garlic. I don’t mind dragon breath. I don’t mind scaring away the cat. So, I suppose Minty Garlicky yogurt sauce is good for people with garlic regret. As you eat it, the garlic infuses your breath but then – woops – the mint comes along for the ride, sweetening things up in the background.

Of course, you’ll probably still need to brush your teeth after eating this dip.

You’ll find similar recipes all over north Africa, central Asia and beyond. The nomadic peoples of Kyrgyzstan have no shortage of dairy, thanks to their herding lifestyle. To keep things interesting they blend yogurt with either mint or cilantro and plenty of fresh garlic. The secret is to let this mixture sit overnight or the garlic will be much too harsh. And a fun fact I ran across in my reading – nomads dig holes in the cool earth for refrigeration:

The nomads always set up their yurts near streams, brooks, rivers and lakes because of proximity to water sources. This location doubles in making the earth in the immediate environs very cold, given the frosty, high-altitutde mountain waters. A hole is dug near the river, and wooden sticks hung across at intervals, like a rack in a wardrobe. The meat and veges are then places on hooks on the racks and then simply stored there, with the cool earth acting as a fridge… even in summer! The hole is then covered. Ingenious! – The Way of the Nomad

Horses in Kyrgyzstan. Photo by Robert Thomson

Makes 2 cups


2 cups Greek yogurt
2-4 Tbsp chopped mint or cilantro
3 cloves garlic, crushed


If you happen to live high in the mountains, near a chilly stream, go ahead and dig a refrigerator. Otherwise, keep it simple: mint and garlic from the garden, yogurt from Greece – thick and creamy.

Crushing garlic is good for the soul. I’m sure of it. In fact, I’d go so far as to replace stress balls with garlic presses.

Mix and set overnight for the garlic to mellow and infuse its garlicky goodness into everything.

I. Cannot. Wait. To. Eat. This. All. Up. 

Unless you want a bite. Then I’ll happily share. Perhaps with a slice of Oromo and a few new friends?

Nomads in Kyrgyzstan 1911. Photo by Sergei Mikhailovich Prokudin-Gorskii

Sounds good to me.

Very good, indeed.

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The secret is to let this mixture sit overnight or the garlic will be much too harsh.Minty Garlicky Yogurt Sauce
  1. Mix and set overnight for the garlic to mellow.

Recipe Copyright Sasha Martin, Global Table Adventure. For personal or educational use only.


  1. Pingback: Global Table Adventure | Menu: Kyrgyzstan

  2. sarah says

    I actually just made this tonight for my musakhan (sumac chicken dish), but i used dried mint instead. really nice with kebabs or cauliflower fritters, especially with some finely chopped cucumber mixed in as well.

    • Sasha Martin says

      Oh, that sounds wonderful – I’d love some kebabs right about now 🙂

  3. Hi. So here I am reading backwards to catch up. I love mint and garlic infused yogurty concoctions. I however had no idea the garlic mellow out overnight. Will try that. I like garlic but hate how I taste it for the next day after eating it raw. Took knowing you and nomads to learn this little trick.

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