Greek cuisine is quite similar with the Mediterranean cuisine in general, and shares several features with local cuisine of Spain or Italy. It also shares characteristics with the dishes of the Levant, Turkey, the Balkans and Italy.
Contemporary Greek cooking widely use grains and bread, herbs and vegetables, olive oil, wine and various meat like pork, rabbit, poultry, lamb and fish. Yogurt, courgette, aubergine, cheese and olives are also very important ingredients. For Greek desserts, honey and nuts are commonly used.
Compared with Mediterranean cuisine, Greek cuisine makes use of more flavouring namely: bay laurel leaves, dill, onion, garlic, mint and oregano.
Other spices and common herbs which are usually used include fennel seeds, thyme and basil. Some dishes use Persillade for garnishing.
Greek recipes in the northern part favour sweet spices in combination with various meat products, like cloves and cinnamon in stews. Greek cuisines also call for cheese. There’s a huge variety of cheese produced in Greece including Mizithra, Metsoyone, Manouri, Anthotyros, Graviera, Kefalotyri, Kasseri and the famous Feta.
Greek Cooking Styles:
- Smoking is never practiced in Greek cooking. Greek foods are preserved, pureed, pickled, poached, grilled, roasted, baked, stewed, braised, boiled, simmered and sauteed.
- Arnaki Kleftiko. Also called bandit’s lamb, a typical Greek lamb recipe at the oven.
- Kapama Is a poultry casserole or stovetop meat in a spicy but sweet tomato sauce.
- Kokkinisto. In Greece, kokkino means red. Kokkinisto is the process of cooking the food in tomato sauce thus making it red. It is a traditional Greek dish which can be made with game, pork, poultry or lamb. White or red wine can be added along with various spices, but pepper, cloves and cinnamon are usually preferred.
- Ladera, lather. A classic Greek cuisine where cooking originated from a simple and peasant-style of preparation. Ladera dishes are usually vegetarian, made up of one or many vegetables, cooked in a sauce which is based in olive oil and often include garlic and tomatoes. This dish is an all-time favourite, and it’s commonly prepared all over Greece during Lent season and other fasting periods when dairy and meat products are restricted out of tradition.
- Ogkraten. A savory Greek dish where cooking is done by making use of béchamel sauce for baking and then sprinkling cheese.
- Pane. Another Greek cooking style which involves frying after dipping a particular ingredient in crumbs, flour and egg.
- Plaki. For Greek cooking term, this describes the preparation of a particular dish where it is oven-baked with vegetables and olive oil.
- Pose. Involves poaching meat ingredients.
- Stifatho. Stewing which makes use of a lot of pearl onions. Dishes using stifatho cooking style can make use of game, seafood, poultry, meat or a particular vegetable as the main ingredient, with tomato, vinegar or wine, onions and a mixture of spices to create a very flavourful base. It’s generally done on stovetop but then there are also some variations which involve oven-cooking.
- Tiganita. Involves frying in a skillet. Tigani is the Greek term for skillet.
- Sto fourno. Greek cooking style which involves baking.
- Sote. Sauteed.
- Yahni. Stewing in ragout style.
- Skharas. Grilling.
- Psito. Roasting of various meat products, poultry or game.
- Pose. Poaching.