What is Greek Food?

Feta cheese is a staple of Greek cuisine.
Feta cheese is a staple of Greek cuisine.

Greek food is a type of Mediterranean cuisine that involves a wide array of foods like fish, olive oil, wine, meat, and other ingredients. Common dessert options will include ingredients like honey, nuts, filo pastries, and fruits. Since it is heavily influenced by Ottoman cuisine, Greek cuisine has similarities (in foods such as baklava and moussaka) with that of neighboring nations. Italian foods have also influenced Greek foods.

10. Taramasalata

Also called taramosalata, this meal is made from tarama mixed with a starchy ingredient (like bread or potatoes), vinegar/lemon juice, and olive oil. In the traditional setting, the meal was prepared using a mortar and a pestle in order to achieve a grainy texture. In the commercial setting, the texture of the food is considerably smoother.

The food is normally served as a dip for raw vegetables or bread. Depending on where it was prepared, the color may be anywhere between pink and creamy beige although the commercial one is mostly pink.

9. Baklava

Baklava refers to a type of dessert pastry that is rich and sweet. The dessert, which bears similarities to cuisines of the Middle East and the Levant, is made from filo, nuts, and either honey or syrup. The history of Baklava actually goes as far back as the Ottoman Empire in the 1650s.

To prepare, one lays out several layers of filo dough in a large pan with vegetable oil and melted butter as the separator. At times, nuts may be added at the top of the filo layers. Baking is done at a temperature of about 356 °F for half an hour and served with syrup at room temperature.

8. Amygdalota

These are Greek almond cookies that are normally chewy, crunchy, and gluten-free. They look similar to almond horns although the two could not be more different. For example, almond horns are made with a mixture of both almond flour and almond paste while amygdalota uses just the almond flour. Other ingredients for the amygdalota include egg whites, orange or rosewater essence, and sugar. They come in different shapes depending on the region.

7. Courgette balls

These balls are a vegetable starter made with a number of ingredients such as eggs, onions, zucchinis, mint, olive oil, and others. They are known to be crispy on the outside with particularly salty feta cheese. The mint only adds more flavor to the courgette balls. Normally, they are prepared by frying them in sizzling oil although they can be baked. Once they are ready, they can be served with some dressing like yogurt dip.

6. Dolmadakia

Dolmadakia refers to stuffed grape leaves that can be prepared with or without meat. Of the two varieties, the more popular one is the meatless type. The iconic Greek meal can also be prepared using jarred leaves when fresh grape leaves are not readily available. Other ingredients for it include virgin olive oil, fresh dill, short-grain rice, black peppers, onions, and others. The meal is typically served chilled or at room temperature with a topping or dipping of yogurt depending on preference.

5. Sigklino

Also called Siglino, this is a pork meal that is extremely popular in Greece, especially Crete. The trick behind Sigklino is keeping the meat inside fat obtained from cooking pork. The fat is called glina and it allows the meat to maintain for a long period. Different regions prepare the meal differently. For example, others may smoke it, others resort to marinating it, while some make it spicy.

4. Lagana

Lagana refers to a type of Greek flatbread that can be both unleavened and leavened. The traditional way of preparing the bread was mostly unleavened while leavening is more common in modern times. In the days of old, it was common to prepare Lagana during the first day (Clean Monday) of the Great Lent. Normally, the bread is flat and oval-shaped with the surface decorated by toppings such as sesame seeds or herbs.

3. Spanakopita

This food is actually a spinach pie that is eaten as a pastry in Greece. Some of its main ingredients include phyllo, eggs, spring onions, spinach, and others. The ingredients vary depending on the region and availability so it is not uncommon for alternatives to be used. The most popular recipes prepare a crunchy outer layer that is golden. Spanakopita can be served at room temperature or immediately out of the oven. There are some vegan recipes that use tofu as opposed to cheese.

2. Moussaka

Moussaka is a popular Greek dish that is somewhat comparable to shepherd's pie or lasagna. It usually consists of layers of cheese, ground beef (ground lamb if following traditional recipe), potatoes and parmesan. It is cooked using red wine, béchamel sauce, and butter. Versions without meat are sometimes also available.

1. Botargo

This food is actually of Italian origin with the main ingredient being cured fish roe. Therefore, it is more popular in places close to fishing coastlines. Botargo has other names including bortaga, Adam Chut, Bottarga, and others, which means there are different recipes. Some have described it as the Greek caviar. Similar meals to this one include karasumi (Japan) and guneoran from Korea.


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