A spicy Greek feta dip that you’ll whip up again and again
Sometimes, one of us feels like cheese. Not any cheese mind you, but the spicy feta dip that we’re sharing with you today. Weird right? But let us explain; we think it will become clear.
We are both named after our grandmothers; one of us was given the name Eleni after our father’s mother, and the other was named Vasiliki, after our mother’s mother. When the latter was born, for some reason an older cousin looked into the baby bassinet and proclaimed, “Here she is…it’s Billy the Kid.” Why a swaddled newborn with a mass of black curly hair reminded our cousin of an American Old West outlaw and gunfighter is anybody’s guess, but the nickname stuck. Years later, when registering for school, our mother brought the legal documents required and went to meet the principal. He was a lovely, well-meaning man who took a look at the birth certificate and said, “Hmmm…Vasiliki is a pretty long and complex name (really…like, you just say it the way it’s spelled…but whatever), we should call her something else”. Our mother, trying to be accommodating, said “We can call her Billie. That’s what we call her at home”. The principal however felt that this was a bad idea, imagining the confusion and possible teasing that would be caused by a girl having a boy’s name. Instead, he offered our mother an alternative; a different name that had been used by another Vasiliki that had been enrolled in his school a few years prior. Not wanting to appear difficult, and probably not realizing that she was setting her child up for a lifetime of identity crisis, our mother agreed. One girl, 3 names. So yes, sometimes one of us feels like cheese, or more specifically, like this cheese dip.
This spicy feta dip also goes by several names, which can cause some confusion. We like to call it tyrokafteri, which literally translates into cheese-burning. Others however call this dip kopanisti (κοπανιστή) or htipiti (χτυπητή) which mean whipped or beaten. Although recipes vary, and versions of this classic Greek spread abound, one thing is certain; no matter what you call it, we are pretty certain you will love it.
Much like tzatziki, this feta dip can be modified to be as hot as you like it. We used 1/2 teaspoon of dried red chili flakes and 1 teaspoon chopped red chili pepper; this gave a tyrokafteri which was just perfect for some of us, and not hot enough for the rest of us. We suggest that you start with these smaller quantities first, taste, and adjust as necessary by adding more fresh and dried chilis. Remember however that the point of this dip is to be spicy; if it is not, you are not making tyrokafteri (or kopanisti, or htipiti).
We like to prepare this dip in a small food processor however you can also use a stand mixer. The latter will give you a chunkier version of the dip, which some people prefer. Even if you are using a food processor, be careful not to over-blend your ingredients. Ideally, there should be some texture variations in your tyrokafteri.
Tyrokafteri is amazing served on toasted bread or with pita. If you would like to make your own pita, check out our recipe here. It also goes incredibly well as a side to roasted lamb or other grilled meats.
Mia Kouppa: Tyrokafteri
- 350 grams (12 oz or 3/4 pound) Greek feta, cut into cubes
- 2 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1/2 to 1 teaspoon dried red chili flakes
- 1/4 cup finely diced roasted sweet pepper (we use the ones found in a jar)
- 1 to 2 teaspoons chopped red chili pepper
- 1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
- Place all of the ingredients in a food processor or stand mixer and mix until well combined.
- Note, that it is a good idea to start with the smaller quantities of dried red chili flakes and chopped red chili pepper listed. This way, you can increase the quantity to achieve the level of heat that you like.
- Serve immediately or store in refrigerator.
- Tyrokafteri is delicious served with bread or pita, and as a side to grilled meats. Enjoy!