10 Essential Greek Dishes You Must Try

If you compare the cuisines of countries with art, then Greek cuisine will be similar to impressionism, just as spectacular, colorful and loved by everyone. Of course, when you think about Greek food, your thoughts immediately come to mind: olives and olive oil, feta cheese, Greek yogurt, tzatziki dressing and, of course, the famous Greek salad. Therefore, to broaden your horizons in the field of Greek cuisine, we offer a selection of 10 dishes that you must try in the homeland of Olympus.
27 march 2024
5 min

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1. Moussaka

Moussaka is perhaps the most popular dish in Greece. There is no exact recipe for this dish because there are so many variations that choosing just one is impossible – it's a real find for those who love to improvise in the kitchen. Essentially, it's a juicy vegetable casserole that has absorbed all the warmth and sunny atmosphere of the Mediterranean. In the form that thousands of Greek housewives prepare it, moussaka appeared in 1920 thanks to the chef Nikolaos Tselementes. He based his dish on an Arabic recipe for eggplant salad. To this dish, he added meat and topped it with a béchamel sauce, a recipe he learned from the French.


Modern Greek housewives believe that moussaka without béchamel sauce is just an imitation of this wonderful dish. The essential ingredients are eggplants, tomatoes, minced meat, sweet peppers, potatoes, and Provencal herbs. The history of the appearance of this dish is shrouded in mysteries, and hardly anyone can name the exact date of its birth. Some speculate that Greek moussaka is over three thousand years old. Others believe that moussaka in its current Greek form became the result of mixing culinary traditions of the Mediterranean with the cuisine of the Turkish invaders who settled in Greece for quite some time.

2. Kleftiko

The origin story of this delicious delicacy is quite amusing, albeit contradictory. There is a version that long ago, shepherds decided to steal a lamb from their master's flock and eat it. The slaughtered lamb was decided to be covered with clay and buried under the fire so it wouldn't be found. When the shepherds returned to the fire and dug up their catch, they found that the meat had become incredibly tender. Much tastier than if they had just roasted it.


There is another version that the lamb was stolen not from their own flock, but from the Turks. Of course, they didn't manage to keep the recipe secret for long... Sheep began to disappear more often, and eventually the shepherds were caught. What happened to them is unknown, but the recipe became a treasure of the Greek people.

3. Gemista

Stuffed vegetables Gemista is a very popular spring dish. Most often, Bulgarian peppers are used for stuffing – Greeks choose this vegetable because of its high vitamin C content.


In addition to Bulgarian peppers, they stuff eggplants, zucchinis, tomatoes, and even sweet onions. Stuffed vegetables are prepared both with minced meat stuffing and vegetarian ones – with rice and vegetables.

4. Stifado

Stifado is stewed meat (usually beef, sometimes rabbit) in tomato sauce with a large quantity of small shallot onions, red wine, and cinnamon. Shallots are an essential part of stifado; during cooking, they should remain whole. There are several opinions about the origin of the name stifado. Some say that the name comes from the ancient Greek word "stifos" – steam. Others claim that the name "Stifado" comes from the Italian word "Stufato" – stewed. However, this is not so important; the main thing is that it is incredibly delicious!


5. Souvlaki

Souvlaki is Greek kebab. It consists of small pieces of meat skewered on small wooden skewers and grilled over charcoal. It is most often made from chicken and pork.


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6. Dolma

This is a delicious, nutritious dish quite popular in Greek cuisine. In Crete, dolma is often prepared with a filling of rice, onions, and herbs, served as a cold appetizer. In northern Greece, however, grape leaves are typically used to wrap a meat filling with rice and parsley, and it is served as a hot appetizer or a full dish.


Dolma is also found in many cuisines of Eastern countries, such as Turkey. The name (dolma, dalma, tolma, dulma, durma, dolmasy, dolmady) comes from the Turkish word dolmak, which means "to fill" or "to stuff".

7. Spanakopita

In Greek, the name of this dish translates to "spinach pie". It is usually made from either phyllo dough or puff pastry. However, the filling remains unchanged – spinach, feta cheese, or feta-like cheese. Traditionally, the pie looks like this – two layers of dough with a generous thick layer of spinach filling between them.

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8. Magiritsa

This is an Easter soup that is traditionally served in almost every home in Greece on Saturday (the day before Easter) after the midnight service. The original recipe was created to use the leftovers (heart, lungs, intestines, and liver) from the lamb that is eaten on Easter Sunday the following day, so nothing goes to waste.


This simple soup may seem unappealing to some, but for many, it's a delicious dish that's perfect after the 40-day period of Great Lent.

9. Patsa

A soup made mainly from pork trotters. In Greece, especially in Athens, this strongly aromatic soup apparently soothes the stomach, making it popular as a hangover food. Of course, given its contents, it may have the opposite effect for some. Therefore, it's only for the brave.

10. Kremmidosupa

When it comes to onion soup, many immediately think of France, but this wonderful dish is prepared not only there. Onion soup has been known since ancient times. People began consuming onion soup over 6,000 years ago. Initially, onion soup was consumed by the poor and slaves, as onions were affordable, often even free food.

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