Spaghetti and Yogurt is a childhood favorite of mine. The recipe is rooted in the Levant and is part of the Nashdidan culinary tradition. Nashdidan refers to the name of the language and people of a group of Assyrian Jews who lived in Syria, Georgia, Iran, Iraq, Kazahkistan, Turkey and Afghanistan. They speak a dialect of aramaic called Nashdidan. Today less than 4,000 Jews speak nashdidan.
In nashdidan the recipe is called chatachtuma and we also refer to a another dish as chatachtuma. Dolma, in this case vegetarian stuffed grape leaves, served with the same yogurt sauce(look for this soon on the site!) It is very reminiscent of the Roman dish Cacio e Pepe, which is simply pasta, cheese and lots of pepper. You can distinctly taste each ingredient.
A version of this recipe and article was first published last mother's day in The Boston Globe. I got so many responses and personal emails from people in the Massachusetts area who remember eating something very much akin to this as children in Turkey, a sort of matzoh like bread with the same yogurt mixture. I was so delighted that the piece struck a chord for people.
More than anything, this dish is humble. It's simple and bold. Lastly it's satisfying, especially when you mop up the yogurt with some soft bread. You can watch our how-to video and my mother's family story by clicking here.
Serving Size: Serves 2
1 lb. Spaghetti
3 cups plain greek yogurt?
3 large garlic cloves, minced or pressed though garlic press
Kosher salt and fresh cracked black pepper, to taste
Melted butter, for drizzling
Bread, for serving
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Season with salt.
Meanwhile, combine the yogurt and garlic in a large bowl. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Add the pasta and cook until al dente. Drain well and immediately add the pasta to the bowl of yogurt.
Using the same pot, melt the butter until it foams and sizzles. Drizzle over the pasta and toss well. Adjust seasoning and serve immediately with bread.