The Greeks love eating and we love them for doing so. Any internet research will bombard you with tons and tons of Greek recipes and authentic Greek food that you must try. However, let’s face it, not everyone can afford a trip to Greece just to check out their culinary; it’s not possible to try out every Greek dish in a single visit. What’s possible is that, for a while, we can pose to be Anthony Bourdain on an exquisite culinary trip and tick off some of the most common yet traditional Greek food from the must-try list.
Get ready to reign in your hunger, here goes the list:
A traditional Greek food which is close to the soil is Choriatiki salad which means farmer’s salad. The Greeks pay due homage to the bounty of Mediterranean produce that graces its lands by preparing the very healthy Choriatiki salate, which again is very easy to make. Made with fresh cherry tomato, bell pepper, onion, cucumber, garlic, plump olives, thick chunks of fresh feta cheese and dressed with virgin olive oil, the Choriatiki is a great option for anyone seeking a clean meal. Treat it as a backup dish to combat hangover or have it as a side dish with any meal, a choriatiki is an extremely valuable addition to any meal. We believe that the salad connoisseur certainly will be in cloud nine on a trip to Greece, the home to an authentic Choriatiki salad. It’s a highly nutritious dish and the riot of fresh, juicy colours makes it look like summer on a plate.
Be it a meat dish, a wrap, a salad or just a casual snack, the Tzatziki is the one-stop solution and fits perfectly as an accompanying dish to every meal. The Greeks like a glorious helping of Tzatziki with every meal and its wickedly simple to prepare. Plain Greek yoghurt infused with cucumber juice, fresh herbs, crushed garlic and lime juice makes the classic traditional Greek food a complete hit. Every restaurant in Greece will serve you this dip to go with whatever you order. Don’t think this craze is over-rated; not only does a bowl of tzatziki compliment every dish perfectly, but it also works out just as well as an appetizer.
Cheese is great, but fried cheese is heavenly. If you haven’t had fried cheese yet, then make it a plan to try out the traditional Greek food called saganaki when you are travelling in Greece. Chunks of pure feta cheese are dipped in flour batter and then fried till the surface assumes a good old golden crust. At a glance, it may look like a sandwich, but saganaki comes in various shapes in sizes, playing various culinary roles. You can have it as a takeaway of quirky cheese balls, have it as a main course or have it as a part of a mezze platter, the options are endless. With a garnish of zesty lime and fresh herbs, a bite of warm saganaki feels like the ultimate comfort food.
Moussaka, or Greece’s answer to lasagne, is an authentic Greek comfort food which has slowly gained popularity in restaurant menus, due to the overwhelming love from visitors. If you love lasagne, you have to try the Greek version, not to compare but to taste both the Mediterranean preparations equally. Missing out on the cheese, the filling of baked eggplant and a thick layer of ground lamb meat is topped with a healthy helping of rich bechamel sauce and baked to crispy golden perfection. A hearty stand-alone meal like no other, the moussaka is everyone’s favourite traditional Greek food. Moussaka is everyman’s dish, which means that even vegetarians can order a meat-free version and chomp happily.
Along with gyro, souvlaki is another well known traditional Greek food which has given the Greek cuisine international renown. While the souvlaki and gyro may almost look similar to causal foodies, if you love your life, never call them similar when you are in Greece. The dishes are starkly different in terms of meat preparation and it’s a thing of great pride for the culinary enthusiastic Greek. The souvlaki meat is well marinated for a while before skewering and grilling it on an open flame and instantly served with a side dish of potato fries, a pita bread and a helping of tzatziki sauce. A plate of authentic souvlaki is enormous and is a recurrent feature of every meat-lovers dream. On your travels to Greece, never miss this authentic Greek food for anything.
Gyros is a traditional Greek food which has knocked down international borders and gifted people with an authentic taste of Greece. Marinated meat, be it lamb, beef or pork is grilled on a rotisserie actively; while making a gyro wrap, charred flavoursome meat is sliced off from the rotisserie, stuffed in freshly made pita bread and finally dressed with tzatziki sauce before dishing up for a great bite. If you are on the go while travelling in Greece, grab a quick gyro on the go and be rewarded with a mouthful of spiced meat with every bite.
If you have had enough of dry food, now is the time to try a traditional Greek food which is gravy based, the soutzukakia or meatballs in gravy. Made of minced lamb meat authentically, the meat is marinated in cumin and cinnamon and then cooked in rich tomato sauce. Tuck into flavoursome mouthfuls complete with the goodness of Greek spices and enjoy a Greek meal in the Indian style.
Call it a vegan dish or a vegetarian dish, it’s up to you; what we know is that dolmades is a traditional Greek food with a long lineage. Just us we Indians have ‘dolma’, a dish with a central stuffing, the Greek ‘dolma’ is quite similar; the stuffing is made of rice and fresh herbs and blanketed with grape leaves. While the dish doesn’t sound remotely appetizing to the meat-loving soul, it’s quite juicy and is a prominent dish in the mezze platter. While the original recipe is purely vegetarian, the Greeks couldn’t stay away from the pleas of its meat crazed countrymen, a meat-based dolmades recipe can certainly be ordered.
One of the homeliest traditional Greek food is kleftiko; every Greek family has its kleftiko recipe which has been passed on through generations. Large chunks of lamb meat are marinated overnight in fresh garlic, olive oil and seasonal herbs, slow-cooked in a coal-fuelled heat chamber where the smoke is allowed to infuse into the meat, sealing off the flavours inside the chamber and cooking it to tender perfection.
During family gatherings, a Greek grandmother’s kleftiko recipe is the centrepiece which glues the great Greek family together. Served alongside generous helpings of feta cheese, salads and potato fries, drop into a Greek tavern and feast on a homely kleftiko recipe.
Do you love pasta? Do you love lasagne? If your answer to both the questions is yes, then you are in luck, pastitsio is the dish for you. Every Greek cuisine feels like comfort food, it’s made with so much love and goodness but the pastitsio is another ball game. The lovechild of pasta and lasagne, every bite is filled with the gooey warmth and love of carbs.
A trip to Greece is incomplete unless you try out the most iconic Greek beverages; now we feel stupid for saying this because our readers are not a bunch of Jon Snows. However, consider this as a friendly check-list you need to revise your plans for the trip.
So, drumrolls please:
Olive oil and olives
You won’t find authentic extra virgin olive oils anywhere else in the world other than in Greece and Italy; this explains the reason why the Greeks treat olive oil as mandatory accompaniments to every food that they serve. The olives are the crowning glory of the natural Greek food bounty, one bite will make you realise why you won’t find anything like it elsewhere.
Only the most ardent coffee lover will be at home in Greece which could give an espresso a run for its money. Butch up and gulp some of the best variants of black coffee that’s on the menu and we are sure you will return home with bunches of coffee beans only after you’ve learnt how to perfectly brew a great cup of Greek coffee. Be assured that very little café corner will be able to blow your mind with the greatest brews, even if you are not a coffee head. Though not a food, this is a must-try Greek food you need to taste while visiting Greece.
A deprived cousin of the more popular Italian wine, the lesser-known Greek wine is surprisingly great. The rich volcanic soil very tenderly nourishes the expansive vineyards where the Greek wines are created. Though it’s not exported as much, it reaches all corners of the world because it’s a great souvenir to take back home from Greece. However, while you are in Greece, make sure to taste the local wine as well as home-made drinks which can be found in every local watering hole; a sip of fresh Greek wine complements the traditional Greek food like a no other.
It is said that what you eat makes who you are, the traditional Greek foods are some of the most wholesome platters that make a person feel contented and happy. Maybe that explains why the Greeks are so warm and fuzzy in their hospitality.
If you liked this blog and thought it was even a teensy bit helpful to you, let us know in the comments below.
Just so you know, we are kickass at customising the best European itinerary for you. If you want not just a great European holiday but the perfect one, drop us a message at www.duniyasafari.com or DM us @duniya_safari on Instagram and let our destination experts get back to you with an amazing itinerary that will be worth your while.