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Kitchens of the world: Greece

The Greek lifestyle is reflected in the essence of its traditional cuisine that surprises with its variety of flavors and its simplicity of preparation . Greek cuisine is based on the Mediterranean diet although it has influences from both the East and the West.

Although the basic ingredients of Greek cuisine are olive oil, spices and condiments, fresh vegetables, fish and meat, Greek cuisine is so varied that there are wide differences between the different regions of the continent and between island and island. .

Vegetables are widely used. Tomatoes, aubergines, potatoes, green beans, onions, peppers, artichokes and spinach are present in many dishes. The most valued olives are the "kalamata".

Fish dishes are consumed mostly in coastal areas and on islands.

Lamb is the favorite meat of the Greeks. It is prepared to the casserole accompanied by vegetables.
In the main parties the lamb roast is one of the favorite dishes. Lamb pilafs are stewed lamb meat preparations that are placed in the center of a rice crown ("pilaf").
A lot of sheep and veal meat is also consumed.

The minced beef or pork is present in many dishes to accompany the vegetables, flavored with lemon sauce, "avgolemono" sauce (lemon and egg mixture) or tomato sauces spiced with cilantro, pepper and cumin. The quintessential dish of minced meat is the "moussaka", a cake of rectangular shape that combines layers of minced meat with eggplant and gratin with cheese.

There is a wide variety of cheeses: "feta", "kefalotyri", "kasseri" and "mizithra" .

The most typical dishes and desserts of Greek cuisine:

Fasolada or bean soup

It is a stew of white beans that many Greek cookbooks define as the star dish of Greek cuisine.

Its basic ingredients are beans, beans or beans and olive oil, plus some vegetables such as carrots, peppers, onions, celery, etc. It is usually seasoned with bay leaves.

Eggplant Musaka

The Greek musaka is very similar to the Italian lasagna and, in fact, it is considered to be its origin. The main ingredient of this lasagna is eggplant, which is cut into slices and placed in layers.

It is usual to accompany it also by layers of minced meat, which is usually lamb meat, and in the upper layer is added cheese, which remains gratinated when baked. It is usually presented in a mold of rectangular shape

Greek or feta cheese

This cheese is based on curd cheese brined and its origins date back to Classical Antiquity.

Normally, it is made from sheep's milk, although it can also be made from mare's milk or half with sheep's milk and half with goat's milk to enhance the flavor. It is a soft cheese, although of solid consistency, and without rind.

Dolmades

Dish from Turkey that in Turkish is known as dolma , a term that comes from the verb dolmak of this same language, which means to fill .

This dish consists of stuffing grape leaves with a mixture made with rice, minced meat, onions and a wide variety of spices and some people also add legumes. The dish is finally served with a sauce made of lemon juice.

Greek salad or horiatiki salata

Best known internationally simply as a Greek salad , it is a dish whose main ingredient is feta cheese cut into coarse squares and Kalamata olives, also known as Greek olives .

Tomato and gherkin slices, thin slices of red onion and strips of green pepper are added to these ingredients. Finally, season with olive oil, red wine vinegar, ground pepper, oregano and salt

Gemistá

It means filling and pronouncing yemistá . This is a dish that you will find in all the taverns of Greece if you visit the country and that is prepared by filling tomatoes and ripe green and red peppers with a paste made with rice mixed with sautéed onion, chopped parsley, crushed tomato, crumbled feta cheese, olive oil and salt. This mixture is introduced inside the peppers and everything is baked. It is a dish that is usually served cold.

Solomos sta Karvouna

It consists of baked salmon and seasoned with lemon slices, lemon juice sauce and olive oil. It is usually served with chips, peas and yoghurt sauce.

Gyros

Gyro in Greek means turn and consists of beef or pork. After being baked, the meat is cut into small slices that are inserted into a pita bread.

They are seasoned with various ingredients, including onion slices, green or red peppers and tomatoes, as well as typical Greek sauces, including tzatziki or yogurt sauce. The gyros is a dish similar to the Mexican tacos or the Arab shawarma.

Eggplant papoutsakia

The term papoutsakia means shoes in Greek and refers to the appearance of this dish, which basically consists of aubergines stuffed with minced meat and covered with cheese. In addition, the recipe includes ingredients such as: chopped onions, olive oil, a glass of white wine, chopped parsley, béchamel sauce, salt and pepper.

Pilaffs

The pilaffs or pilafs is a rice dish with pieces of lamb meat, all mixed with the famous Greek yogurt sauce. The name pilaf refers to white rice boiled and flavored with spices and onions.

Mezzedes

The term meze or mezze, plural mezzedes, is of Turkish origin and refers to a selection of small dishes that are served in Greece as starters during lunch or dinner.

There is a wide range of these small dishes, very similar to the known Spanish tapas, which can be served hot or cold and can have flavors

Bougatsa

This sweet is probably the most popular among the desserts of Greek gastronomy and consists of a filling whose ingredients are minced meat, custard and cheese, all wrapped in phyllo dough. Actually, it's a dessert from Macedonia.

Diples

Also called thiples , they are made with thin dough stretched to form long and thin strips. They are fried in very hot oil and during this process they are bent into a loop or spiral shape, although they can be found in other forms.

Once fried, they are dipped in syrup or smeared in honey. They are served with chopped nuts and sprinkled cinnamon. It is a typical Peloponnese dessert that is also served on New Year's Day and at weddings banquets.

Koulourakia

The koulourakia is a typical sweet of the celebration of Holy Week in Greece, which is normally taken after Holy Saturday.

They are handmade butter cookies that are usually shaped as a bow, braided circle or Greek letters and are dressed with egg glaze on top. For its preparation, vanilla and sesame seeds are used.

Kourabiedes

In the singular, kourabies , it is also a butter cookie made from ground almonds. In its preparation, a touch of brandy is not usually lacking, usually metaxa, apart from vanilla, rose water or mastika (liqueur flavored with mastic).

They are usually given a ball shape, although there are also other crescent-shaped or wavy versions. It is a typical Christmas Greek sweet.

Tulumba

This dessert, also called tulumba tatlısı , is made with pieces of unleavened dough with a length not exceeding 10 cm. Each piece is given an oval shape. They are fried in very hot oil and once they are fried they are poured syrup when they are still hot. They are served cold.

tzatziki

This dish is one of the most typical of Greek food. It is a sauce made with Greek yogurt, cucumber and a touch of garlic, as well as some aromatic herbs such as mint.

It is taken as a starter, spread on toast bread, and the truth is that it is delicious and is a great way to start the meal or dinner. It is fresh and soft.

Souvlaki

Souvlaki is a very popular street food in Greece. These are skewers of pieces of pork (although they can be chicken, beef, lamb or even fish) marinated with oregano, lemon and olive oil cooked on the grill. They are consumed alone as a snack. They can also be a more complete meal if accompanied with vegetables, tzatziki and bread, potatoes or rice.

Tiropita

Tiripita or tyropita is a salty cake very typical of Greece. It is made with a delicate filo pastry and with a cheese and egg filling.

This pasta is very typical of oriental cuisine, being used in recipes such as baklava or börek. Normally it is believed that its origin is Greek. However, there are some hypotheses that say that this type of pasta would be born in the Sephardic kitchen, because this pasta was already used in Spain during the Middle Ages until finally it was replaced by puff pastry.

Pastitsio

The pastitsio is a traditional dish of Greek cuisine that is cooked with baked pasta, very similar to lasagna. Pastitsio is very common and is often served as a first course.

There are different variants, but typically the famous bucatini or any other tubular pasta linked with cheese can be seen on the top; the second layer is minced lamb or veal with tomato sauce and cinnamon, nutmeg or allspice; the third consists of a layer of pasta with sauce made of flour and egg with a béchamel sauce. Croutons of bread or cheese are usually added on top.

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