Food has and always will be a central part of any culture or civilization. It sustains life, brings people together, and excites the taste buds. Different cultures prepare their foods in different ways. You may have had the same food for instance, but prepared in a completely different way than you are accustomed to. As a result, a whole new culinary experience is created specifically for the culture and times.
Greek cuisine is not only delectable but it is considered one of the healthiest diets worldwide. Fresh vegetables, fruits, and seafood are practically mandatory for many Greek dishes which contributes to their balanced and health-conscious nature.
Naturally, some Greek dishes are more popular than others, but that depends on who you talk to. Local Greeks may prefer certain dishes while visitors tend to have a more varied appeal to Greek cuisine. Nevertheless, you can never go wrong with authentic Greek cuisine. Here are ten of the most highly rated Greek dishes:
Moussaka is a popular dish not only in Greece. You can find slight variations of the recipe in neighboring countries throughout the Mediterranean and Balkans. Moussaka is a traditional Greek dish made by layering ground meat, eggplant, tomato sauce, and various spices. It is then topped with a creamy béchamel sauce and oven-baked to perfection. It is usually served with crusty bread and salad and is a Greek dish to be remembered.
One of the main reasons why Greek cuisine is considered so healthy is its heavy reliance on vegetables and fruits. Vegetarians may even prefer eating Greek since it may offer more options for them, rather than the more common meat-based meals.
Dolmathes is an excellent example of how Greeks combine health and taste to create highly nutritious meals. It is made from grapevine leaves stuffed with your choice of rice, herbs and spices rolled up and boiled to the required tenderness. Due to its elegant simplicity, it is common to find slight variations of this recipe from household to household, nevertheless, Dolmades never disappoint.
These small fried cheese balls are a preferred appetizer for many Greeks and visitors alike. Preparation is a simple process but the result is sure to tickle your taste buds. The crispy exterior hides the soft melted core filled. Ingredients usually include a mixture of breadcrumbs, eggs, and various kinds of cheese.
Tirokroketes can be served on any occasion and are a welcomed appetizer or snack at any event. Although the recipe is simple enough to follow, creating the perfect Tirokroketes takes time and experience, especially during the frying process.
If you are a fan of lasagna or Italian food then this dish will surely make your list of favorite Greek cuisines. The ingredients and preparation of Pastitsio are very similar to Italian lasagna as this Greek dish (like many others) was particularly influenced by Italian cuisine.
Think of Pastitsio as the cousin of lasagna. It is made with long macaroni with a whole in the middle instead of the pasta sheets and layered with ground beef (or lamb), béchamel sauce, and various herbs and spices. It is usually served with a simple salad with olive oil.
Another favorite among vegetable lovers and foodies in general. Sometimes a patty shape and other times ball-like; really depends on the cook. These fritters are mainly comprised of small pieces of zucchini mixed with egg, feta, and fresh mint. It goes well with plain yogurt but if you want the authentic experience it should be paired with Tzatziki.
Unsurprisingly, the Greek salad has to be on the list of must-try Greek dishes. Probably one of the reasons why Greek food is so widely known now and its healthy reputation. Choriatiki is had with practically every meal and ensures a balance in the taste and nutrition of the entire meal.
Surely, you’ve at least attempted to make Greek salad at some point in your life, but randomly throwing together veggies into a bowl cannot be considered a Greek salad. Choriatiki is made with bite-size pieces of cucumber, tomato, olives, and red onions topped with a liberal amount of Feta cheese.
One of the more classic dips in Greece, Taramasalata is made from fish roe and soaked bread drizzled with lemon juice and olive oil. If you enjoy the taste of caviar then this dip would be the perfect addition to your menu. While caviar is made from specific roe, Taramosalata contains a blend of fish roe giving it a more distinct taste. Greeks usually eat Taramosalata during Lent and accompany it with with flatbread and olives.
The Greeks love their cheeses, Feta being at the top of that list, and include it in many of their local dishes and snacks. For instance, Tirokroketes are essentially deep-fried cheese balls. A combination of cheeses is mixed with breadcrumbs and fried to crispy perfection. Similarly, Saganaki is fried cheese and flour.
For dessert, or not, it is common to find sweets and sweet-based snacks like Baklava. It is one of the more popular and well-known Greek desserts and is mainly comprised of nuts, butter, and sugar. After the baking process, honey (or sweet syrup) is poured all over it. The honey is then absorbed which adds to the taste and texture of this delectable dessert.
These honey balls are like the equivalent of the donut: different shapes but the same sweet taste. Loukoumades are fried balls of flour soaked in honey syrup and topped with various nuts and spices. For a quick snack or for when you are on the go, Loukoumades are the perfect snack and is probably why they can be found easily in restaurants and stalls all over Greece.
Although they might have not made the list, there is a wide variety of Greek cuisine out there to experience and discover, those most suitable to your preference. If you are experimenting then it would be worth trying: (1) Souvlaki (Gyros): Roasted meat served with veggies in a pita. (2) Spanakopita: Greek spinach pie. (4) Briam: Roasted Vegetables.
The kinds of food that you enjoy or the way you prefer your food to be prepared may differ greatly from person to person. However, the importance of the quality and nutritional value of a meal cannot be overstated. Greek food is the perfect combination of fresh ingredients and nutrition. A balanced meal makes you feel and perform better. If that’s not reason enough to try out some Greek cuisine then do it for the delectable taste and unique flavors.