Described below are some of the most popular eats and treats you” find in Greece.
Halva is a sweet treat which can also be found in the Middle East, North Africa, Malta and in Jewish nations. Although the term Halva is used to describe two different kinds of desserts, the type of Halva most commonly served in Greece is made from ground seeds. Oily seeds, like sesame, are ground to a paste and mixed with sugar syrup. Tahini or sesame butter can also be mixed with sugar glucose, honey and egg white to create a variation of the dish. Common ingredients used to flavour Halva include orange, vanilla and pistachio.
Taramosalata (Carp Roe Spread)
This is a very traditional Greek spread/dip. Don’t be put off by its star ingredient, fish roe (tarama in Greek), or its unusual pink colouring. It’s made with lemon juice, fish roe, vinegar, olive oil and either potatoes or soaked bread and it often takes pride of place on a Cypriot meze platter. Although most people have sampled pink Taramosalata the colour of the dip does vary depending on what sort of roe you use.
Dolmadakia (Stuffed Vine Leaves)
Dolmadakia make a fantastic addition to a Greek banquet. They’re simply leaves from a grape vine stuffed with a variety of fillings – although flavoured rice and mince meat are common. Dolmadakia are often served with sauces like egg and lemon (known as avgolemono) or tomato. Ready-made Dolmadakia can be bought in jars or cans internationally.
In Greece cheese is a popular ingredient and the cheese the country is best known for is feta. Feta is a tangy aged cheese with a slightly grainy texture made from sheep’s milk (or a mixture of sheep and goat milk). It is usually produced in blocks and is often preserved in brine. Feta is a star ingredient in many popular Greek dishes, including the iconic Greek salad.
Greek Salad may have become a popular dish internationally but it started life in Greece as a simple summer dish. The Greek recipe calls for kalamata olives, feta cheese, onion, cucumber, tomatoes and green bell peppers. Once assembled the traditional Greek salad is dressed with olive oil, oregano and salt.
Tsoureki (Greek Easter Bread)
During the Easter period Tsoureki is a common treat in Greece. The sweet, braided bread is traditionally served to break the Lenten fast. The rich loaf is flavoured with mahlab and orange and a hard-boiled egg is usually dyed red and inserted in one end of the dough before its baked.
Kalamari is a common starter in several European nations known for the quality of their seafood – like Turkey, Albania, Spain, Italy and Greece. In Greece squid rings and tentacles are coated in batter and quickly fried in hot oil until tender on the inside and crispy on the outside. Kalamari are usually served with lemon wedges or with lemon-mayonnaise.
These are popular Greek biscuits. Textually they’re similar to shortbread but Kourabiedhes are usually made with almonds with Metaxa for flavouring. Brandy, rose water and vanilla are also common additions to the recipe. Once baked the chunky biscuits are rolled in icing sugar. During the Christmas period these biscuits are particularly popular and are often made with a clove buried in the centre.