Greek cuisine was historically a forerunner of Western cuisine and has been credited for its widespread gastronomic influence in Europe and beyond. And because of its long and rich history, it is difficult to pinpoint the exact origin of each dish. This is also likely due to Greece’s geographical diversity, as it is comprised of over 200 inhabited islands–out of 6000 in total–within its sovereignty.
The diversity of Greek cuisine has spawned a long list of delicious dishes, and has seemingly allowed everyone to have their own favourite dish. It’s definitely hard to pick, but we’ve compiled some of the most popular, defining, and traditional Greek dishes–from the simple tzatziki to the more elaborate moussaka–for you to make at home. Just make sure to have plenty of olive oil at hand!
5 Traditional Greek Dishes
You can’t possibly talk about Greek cuisine without mentioning souvlaki. Souvlaki translates to ‘little skewer’, which is essentially meat and vegetable kebab served with pita bread and tzatziki sauce. Some of the common ingredients for the kebab include pork shoulder, chicken breasts, peppers, tomatoes, and zucchinis. But whatever combination you pick, the secret is in the marinade. Make sure you properly allow your ingredients a proper soak before taking them to the grill.
Arguably the most iconic dip and sauce in Greek cookery, tzatziki is a true staple that cannot be forgotten when preparing a Greek meal. Traditionally, this yoghurt-based cucumber dip is made from goat or sheep yoghurt, but the popularity of Greek yoghurt has allowed this delicious and complementary sauce to be easily accessible. It doesn’t matter if you’re having meat, fish, or vegetables; you’ll be double and triple dipping with this irresistible sauce.
3. Greek Salad
Greek salad, along with the Caesar and the Cobb, is one of a handful of salads that are well-established enough to have a universal name. But ‘famous’ foods are often harder to impress because of the countless variations and twists. The ingredients are common and accessible–tomatoes, cucumbers, olives, feta, and olive oil–but the key to replicating the bold flavours of a beautiful and authentic Greek salad is to choose the freshest and high-quality ingredients with accurate portions of each ingredient.
If you’re trying to win someone over to liking Greek cuisine, moussaka is the way to do it–who doesn’t love a good casserole? One of the most famous traditional Greek dishes, moussaka is made with layering eggplants and ground meat filling, and topped with a layer of creamy bechamel sauce. It is hearty, filling, and can easily be created with your own favourite vegetables like zucchinis or potatoes!
5. Lemon Potatoes
Ever tried a side dish so good that you’ve secretly made it the star of the show in your own head? That’s Greek-style lemon potatoes for me. Unlike many other potato dishes that tend to be too heavy, the refreshing and lemony flavour makes this side dish a terrific complement for just about any dish, from moussaka to souvlaki to Greek salad. The best part is that it’s super easy to make!
What are your favourite traditional Greek dishes? Did we miss them? Let us know in the comments and make sure to share with us the recipes!