jajik

Jajik

If you're at an Assyrian person's house and you find a carton of cottage cheese in the refrigerator, you can be almost certain that there is no cottage cheese inside. 90% of the time, the cottage cheese has been replaced by jajik. If, on the off-chance, there is cottage cheese inside, don't eat it, because it's about to be turned into jajik, which is a hundred times better than cottage cheese, so either way, you're in luck.

Jajik (also known as jajeek) is a simple, yet delicious, spread made from dairy with herbs or veggies. It's very similar to many other Middle Eastern, south-Asian, and Mediterranean dairy-based dips and spreads, such as tzatziki, cacik, mastokhiar, and raita (to name a few). 

Jajik

My family's recipe only has four real ingredients and requires no special equipment or skills. While our recipe is pretty simple, some common additions include cilantro, parsley, green onions, banana peppers, garlic, and grated cucumber. Feel free to experiment with the recipe, adding any of these other traditional ingredients.

Jajik was one of my Baba Peter's favorite things to eat for breakfast; he and my grandmother were always fans of savory and sweet. My grandmother sometimes eats her jajik on a Krispy Kreme doughnut and my grandfather would sometimes spread jajik and jam on a bagel. I have to admit, both are strangely perfect combinations, but I prefer plain old English muffins or lawasha. But jajik isn't always eaten for breakfast—it's also great for dinner (jajik chicken, and jajik chickpeas with rice) along with other mezes, like hummus and stuffed grape leaves.

My Baba, Patrous "Peter" John Ishu (unknown photographer), ca. 1955

My Baba, Patrous "Peter" John Ishu (unknown photographer), ca. 1955

Jajik

yield: about 3 1/2 cups
active time: 5 minutes
download a
PDF to print

  • 8 ounces cream cheese

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter

  • 16 ounces small curd cottage cheese

  • Packed 1/4 cup chopped dill + 2 tablespoons for sprinkling on top

  • Salt to taste (I use 1/4 teaspoon)

  • Optional: olive oil for drizzling

  • For serving: pita bread, english muffins, or lawash

  1. Let the cream cheese and butter come to room temperature. Once softened, combine the two until they are very well blended.

  2. Combine the cottage cheese with the butter/cream cheese mixture and salt to taste.

  3. Gently fold the 1/4 cup chopped dill into the mixture. Do not add the dill before this point or the whole thing will turn green.

  4. Garnish the jajik with the remaining 2 tablespoons chopped dill.

Jajik

stuffed dates eight ways

stuffed dates

When you snack a lot, you tend to prepare the same things over and over again. Yogurt with nutella, cheese and crackers, a sliced apple with peanut butter, a handful of raw almonds when you're feeling particularly virtuous. Maybe you wouldn't exactly call it a snacking rut, but a snacking routine. You've got to find those calories to get through the conference calls or grading marathons, so you make the same sensible, reliable decision every time.

But, rut or no rut, sometimes you want to make something a little extra special. You might have guests visiting from out of town, or maybe you just want to treat yourself. Either way, it's even better if you can make something exciting, healthy, and delicious without a lot of effort. The answer? The stuffed date.

pitted dates

Dates are perfect for stuffing, since they are left with that huge gap after you pit them. Why not replace the thing that's just waiting there for you to forget it exists so that you end up cracking a tooth and needing emergency dental care, with something edible that perfectly compliments the date's lovely flavor and texture. The trick is to carefully make an incision in one side, pop the pit out, and open it like a baked potato or one of those rubber coin purses. Then just fill it with whatever you choose! (Just not broccoli-cheddar or nickels and pennies). Experiment with your own fillings, or choose one of the examples below.

stuffed dates 8 ways

Left column (top to bottom): herby cheesy date, rainbow tiramisu date, chocolate-covered pretzel date
Middle column: baklawa date, retro 1995 date
Right column: dinner date, salted peanut butter chocolate date, Nana's date
 

tirimisu date

rainbow tiramisu date

Roll the date in Turkish coffee and cocoa powder, fill it with honey-sweetened mascarpone, and top it with some rainbow sprinkles.

chocolate covered pretzel date

chocolate-covered pretzel date

Stuff the date with a pretzel nugget and dip the bottom and sides in chocolate. (vegan)

coconut walnut date

nana's date

Stuff the date with a walnut piece and unsweetened coconut flakes, or roll it in sweetened coconut flakes. (vegan)

baklava date

baklawa date

Stuff the date with a walnut piece and pack a small pinch of cardamom, finely chopped pistachios, and (optional) edible dried rose petals into the rest of the space. (vegan)

basil cheese date

herby cheesy date

Stuff the date with a chunk of fontina (or another firm cheese) wrapped in basil, or sprinkled with another herb.

salted peanutbutter almond date

salted chocolate peanut butter date

Stuff the date with smooth peanut butter, top with an almond and some crunchy sea salt, and dip the bottom in chocolate. (vegan)

brie pecan date

dinner date

Stuff the date with a slice of brie and a pecan.

retro 1995 date

Retro 1995 date

Stuff the date with goat cheese and some sun-dried tomato pieces, and top with basil chiffonade.