Greek Cuisine – Features, Traditions and Dishes to Try
Greek cuisine is first of all tradition. And no wonder, since it is almost four thousand years old. And it should be noted that the Greeks have carefully carried through millennia four main secrets, on which the majority of recipes in Greek cuisine are based: the simplicity of preparation, quality products, the famous olive oil and skillful use of numerous herbs and spices.
The peculiarities of Greek cuisine
Greek cuisine is wholesome and nutritious and simple at the same time. The locals are fond of healthy food, that’s why all the dishes are prepared only from fresh ingredients, because they believe that this is the secret of a long life.
The basic diet of Greek cuisine is olive oil, wine and bread. A variety of rolls and cakes in Greece are baked from wheat or barley flour with addition of cheese, vegetables, olives or honey.
Greece is a true paradise for food lovers. The meal in this country is a ritual that is given great importance. It’s not just eating, but also socializing and relaxing. The whole family usually gathers for dinner, and there are many dishes on the table, which are loved by all those gathered around the table.
Tourists can discover the world of Greek cuisine in numerous cafes, tavernas and restaurants. Be aware, however, that many establishments designed for travelers often serve adapted dishes, so if you want to taste authentic Greek food, choose those cafes frequented by locals.
Fish and seafood
This is one of the most important components of Greek cuisine. And despite the fact that fish and seafood delicacies are quite expensive, the country knows how to cook them. In any seaside tavern you must try the local fish – tsipura and mullet, and also octopus (here it is not only fried on coals, but also pickled).
For cooking Greek dishes mainly lamb or goat meat, in extreme cases – pork are used. Meat is usually stewed, baked or barbecued.
As a side dish in Greece people prefer to use peas, pulses, lentils and cabbage. Most often these products are used to prepare soups or porridges to which olive oil, vinegar and various herbs are added.
In Greece, in contrast to Russia, there is no such thing as olives, but there is a division into green olives (early maturity), green olives and black (late maturity). Olives are eaten simply, they are added to bread, salads, and, of course, olive oil, without which probably not a single dish of Greek cuisine can do.
The main dairy product of Greece. Greeks can compete with the French in their love for cheese. Here it is made of sheep or goat milk. There are more than 20 kinds of cheeses produced in Greece, the most famous among them is feta, a soft cheese made of sheep’s milk.
Eggplants are one of the most favorite vegetables of Greeks. They are stuffed, baked, stewed, and are part of one of the most famous national dishes – moussaka (Greek casserole). In addition to eggplant, tomatoes, beans, artichokes and carrots are popular in Greece.
Greeks adore a variety of herbs and spices and use them much more often than other Mediterranean chefs. Greeks can find culinary uses for almost any mountain herb.
Greek yogurt is made from goat, sheep, or cow’s milk. It is not very thick and fatty, but it is excellent as a dressing for salads. Greeks also like to drink yogurt with some nuts and honey.
Sunny Greece abounds with fruits. They are most often served for dessert, both fresh and as a filling for a variety of pies.
If you are a fan of coffee, then you can go straight to Greece. Here well-brewed fragrant coffee is served in tiny cups. You will certainly get a glass of cold water to go with it. Also here frappe is very popular – instant coffee with milk and crushed ice.
Recipes for Greek dishes
A recipe from chef Alexei Zimin
What you need:
- 800 grams of tomatoes in their own juice
- 30 dried currants
- 4 tbsp. olive oil
- 1 tsp. cayenne pepper
- 450g ground lamb
- ½ tsp. ground cinnamon
- ¼ tsp. ground ginger
- ¼ tsp. ground cloves
- 6 cloves of garlic
- 2 heads of onions
- 1 red bell bell pepper
- 220 ml red wine
- 330 ml vegetable oil
- 650 grams of eggplants
- 400 grams of potatoes
- 150g butter
- 80g flour
- 250 ml of milk
- 1 laurel leaf
- 100 ml Greek yogurt
- 200 grated parmesan
- Seasoned pepper, salt, nutmeg to taste
How to prepare:
Step 1: Soak the currants in boiling water for half an hour. Tomatoes in a blender until smooth.
Step 2: Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a pan, add the stuffing, seasoned with cayenne pepper, ginger, cloves, cinnamon, salt and pepper, and simmer constantly stirring for 5 minutes. Then transfer the meat to a sieve to drain the excess liquid.
Step 3. in the same pan, pour the remaining olive oil, add the crushed garlic and red pepper, finely chopped onion and peeled from seeds and skin. Braise for 10 minutes, then pour in the wine and cook, stirring, for another 10 minutes until the wine has evaporated.
Step 4: Add the tomatoes, minced meat and currants to the pan. Stir well and stew over medium heat for 30 minutes, until sauce is thick.
Step 5: Slice the eggplants into thin rings and fry in batches on both sides in vegetable oil until golden. Drain the cooked eggplant from excess oil with a paper towel.
Step 6 Cut the potatoes into slices and fry until soft.
Step 7: Make the béchamel sauce: melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat, stirring it for a couple of minutes. Then add the flour, and start pouring in, without stopping to stir, the milk. Throw in the bay leaf and simmer for 15 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, add nutmeg and remove the bay leaf. Cool the cooked sauce for 5 minutes.
Step 8. In a bowl, whisk yogurt and yolks.
Step 9: Preheat the oven to 200 degrees. Place the carob slices in the bottom of the mold, salt and pepper the chi. On top – eggplant slices, also salt and pepper them. Next layer – meat sauce, then pour béchamel sauce over the meat and flatten the surface. Sprinkle with parmesan and bake for 40-45 minutes.