Turkish Yogurt and Tomato Sauce

The real name of this dish is Turkish Yogurt and Brown Butter Tomato Sauce. I discovered the sauce recipe on Saveur.com, by Ana Sortun. Turns out she’s the author of two cookbooks, shown below. I purchased Spice.

Interestingly enough, Ana Sortun was a young American chef when she traveled to Turkey and discovered its cuisine. “Inspired beyond measure, Sortun opened her own restaurant in Cambridge, Massachusetts, the award-winning Oleana.”

There, she created interpretations of dishes incorporating the incredible array of delicious spices and herbs used in eastern regions of the Mediterranean, including Turkey. According to Chef Sortun, yogurt and tomato combine to create a delicious, creamy sauce with hints of peppery zest. This traditional sauce is used on manti, Turkish spiced lamb-filled dumplings.

When I researched manti, I discovered that they come in an endless variety of shapes – some resembling Japanese gyoza and some Chinese steamed buns. When I read further, I discovered that its close relative is momo, which we actually enjoyed when we were in Leh, Ladakh last year (India). We also had a traditional yak dish that was wonderful. The restaurant was called Namza Dining.

I wasn’t in the mood to make filled fancy dumplings in order to try the sauce, so I decided to make spaetzle instead; see recipe below. Not filled, nor steamed, but still a great doughy vehicle for the Turkish sauce.

The only ingredient I needed for the yogurt-tomato sauce was maras pepper. These chile peppers are native to Turkey and are completely different from Aleppo chile peppers. Of course I had to have the real thing and, once again, Amazon helped me out.

This sauce was even more intriguing to me, not only because of this new chile pepper but also the combination of it with dried spearmint and sumac. And by the way, the book Spice is wonderful. I absolutely love Turkish cuisine, and the recipes do not disappoint.

Turkish Yogurt and Brown Butter Tomato Sauce
Printable recipe below

2 minced garlic cloves
1 tsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 cups plain, whole milk Greek yogurt (16 oz.)
Kosher salt to taste
2 cups canned diced tomatoes, drained (14 oz.)
1/4 pound unsalted butter
2 tbsp. maraş pepper
1 tbsp. dried spearmint, rubbed through a sieve
1 tbsp. sumac

In a small mixing bowl, combine the garlic and lemon juice and let stand for 5 minutes. Stir in the yogurt and season to taste with kosher salt; set the yogurt sauce aside. I can only get 2% non-fat yogurt where I live so I let it drain overnight on paper towels before using.

Melt the butter over medium heat. Allow the foam to subside and the milk solids to brown lightly, about 8 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium-low, and add the tomato.

Simmer in the brown butter until the tomato is soft and jammy, about 15 minutes. Season to taste with kosher salt and set aside, but keep warm. I used a potato masher to “mush” of the diced tomatoes.

To serve, divide warmed yogurt sauce evenly between 6 bowls. Add manti/dumplings/spaetzle to each dish, followed by 1/4 cup of tomato sauce.

Sprinkle generously with mara pepper, dried spearmint, and sumac.

Serve immediately.

I was overwhelmed with happy yumminess when I made çilbur, a Turkish egg and yogurt dish. But this feta, dumpling and yogurt-tomato sauce dish is tied in first place. It is magnificent.

Maybe next time I’ll make the spicy lamb-stuffed dumplings. I can’t even imagine how much better the dish could be!

For the spaetzle, combine 2 eggs with about 1 cup of milk and whisk. Add flour until you have a dumpling consistency; the batter should not be runny. Drop and cook teaspoonfuls in boiling water; they will rise to the surface when done, about 2 minutes. Place on paper towels to drain. When all are cooked, toss with a small amount of oil to keep them moist and to prevent sticking.



About the Author: Chef Mimi

As a self-taught home cook, with many years in the culinary profession, I am passionate about all things food-related. Especially eating!


  1. johnrieber March 13, 2024 at 7:52 AM - Reply

    That looks delicious!

    • Chef Mimi March 13, 2024 at 8:02 AM - Reply

      It was truly outstanding. Turkish cuisine is fast becoming my favorite!

  2. Chef Mimi March 13, 2024 at 8:00 AM - Reply

    It was truly amazing! I can’t wait to make this again, and I rarely say that. I’ll look into it Bernadette!

  3. Chef Mimi March 13, 2024 at 9:33 AM - Reply

    If nothing else, make the tomato sauce and browned butter sauce. It’s out of this world!

  4. Dorothy's New Vintage Kitchen March 13, 2024 at 10:24 AM - Reply

    This looks really delightful Mimi! I’m going to have to look for this book. Nothing like changing up the flavors.

    • Chef Mimi March 13, 2024 at 10:58 AM - Reply

      It’s hard to describe how delicious this dish is. But at least try the tomato sauce by itself. Amazing.

  5. Charlie DeSando March 13, 2024 at 11:47 AM - Reply

    very vibrant colors, looks great

    • Chef Mimi March 13, 2024 at 1:05 PM - Reply

      And the flavors are outstanding!

  6. Mary March 13, 2024 at 2:41 PM - Reply

    The sauces sound fabulous but I don’t think I’d care for the dough balls.
    Thanks for the recipes. :))

    • Chef Mimi March 13, 2024 at 6:08 PM - Reply

      The sauce is fabulous!

  7. sherry March 13, 2024 at 3:57 PM - Reply

    that is an interesting idea for the sauce Mimi. I’ve never heard of a brown butter tomato sauce but I bet it is very flavourful!

    • Chef Mimi March 13, 2024 at 6:08 PM - Reply

      You really should try it. It’s pretty incredible!

  8. Raymund March 13, 2024 at 9:27 PM - Reply

    It’s fascinating to learn about the origins of this dish, I love food history always. Anyways combination of yogurt and tomato with a hint of maras pepper, spearmint, and sumac sounds like a burst of flavors that it not the usual flavours I am used to, cant wait to give this a go

    • Chef Mimi March 14, 2024 at 10:26 AM - Reply

      Turkish cuisine involves lots of yogurt used in many different savory ways.

  9. Tandy | Lavender and Lime March 13, 2024 at 10:54 PM - Reply

    This sounds very interesting.

    • Chef Mimi March 14, 2024 at 10:28 AM - Reply

      It was so incredible.

  10. Pauline McNee March 14, 2024 at 5:22 AM - Reply

    We loved the Turkish cuisine when we were in Turkey many years ago, but this dish is next level Tuekish food. I’ve never used dried spearmint or marks pepper. Her recipe book looks inspiring, thanks for the recipe Mimi.

    • Chef Mimi March 14, 2024 at 10:28 AM - Reply

      We’ve mainly been in Istanbul and Cappadocchia, and te found was outstanding!

  11. David Scott Allen March 14, 2024 at 8:53 AM - Reply

    A friend of my live in Turkey for several years, and raves about the different kinds of yogurt dishes they have there. This one looks absolutely incredible.

    • Chef Mimi March 14, 2024 at 10:26 AM - Reply

      They use yogurt in just about everything, and it’s all so good.

  12. Chef Mimi March 14, 2024 at 10:27 AM - Reply

    I understand that, but they’re supposed to be lamb-filled, which would really make this dish exceptional!

  13. Chef Mimi March 14, 2024 at 3:09 PM - Reply

    Well, this is delicious! The desserts definitely are, too!

  14. Chef Mimi March 14, 2024 at 7:01 PM - Reply

    Yeah. You will. It’s amazing.

  15. Frank | Memorie di Angelina March 15, 2024 at 7:43 AM - Reply

    How interesting! I’ve never heard of this pepper nor have I ever had sumac. I’m definitely curious!

    • Chef Mimi March 15, 2024 at 9:10 PM - Reply

      I guess cooking mostly Italian, you wouldn’t have used sumac, but it’s fabulous. This sauce is way more than fabulous!

  16. nancyc March 15, 2024 at 10:15 AM - Reply

    This dish sounds really good–I love yogurt and the tomato sauce sounds great! :)

    • Chef Mimi March 15, 2024 at 9:10 PM - Reply

      Try the browned butter tomato sauce, if nothing else. You will swoon!

  17. Chef Mimi March 17, 2024 at 8:09 AM - Reply

    It really is. If nothing else, try the red sauce. It’s so unique!

  18. Ronit Penso Tasty Eats March 17, 2024 at 3:19 PM - Reply

    I’m a big fan of yogurt in any form, so I know I would love this, especially with this amazing tomato sauce, which I hope to try soon! :)

    • Chef Mimi March 18, 2024 at 7:28 AM - Reply

      It really is amazing. I hope you try it!

  19. spicedblog March 18, 2024 at 6:36 AM - Reply

    The spearmint threw me off a bit here, but then I remembered that mint is often used in Turkish recipes. I’m intrigued by this recipe – it sounds easy but the flavor profile would be a fun way to mix up the usual routine!

    • Chef Mimi March 18, 2024 at 7:27 AM - Reply

      If nothing else, do try the red sauce. It’s incredible.

  20. nancyc March 21, 2024 at 7:21 PM - Reply

    I’m a fan of yogurt, and the tomato sauce sounds delicious! :)

    • Chef Mimi March 21, 2024 at 8:04 PM - Reply

      I’ve been suggesting to people that, if nothing else, try this tomato sauce! It’s out of this world!

Leave a Reply. I love 'em!