As the popularity of Mediterranean cuisine has made its steady march across the globe, many Greek terms, ingredients and dishes have made their way into the common lexicon. But every now and then there’s a word on the menu to stump even the most ardent of food fans.
Here are 15 terms to know when perusing a traditional Greek menu…
Traditionally a breakfast pastry, bougatsa varies from sweet to savoury across Greece. Put simply it is a filo pastry filled with ingredients such as semolina custard.
This traditional Greek salad is made of any variety of readily available ingredients such as capsicum, onion, olives, feta, capers and cucumber and tomato, seasoned with salt, pepper, oregano and drizzled with olive oil. Fondly regarded as a country village or peasant salad it is made from whatever seasonal produce a farmer had at hand, with the noticeable absence of lettuce in its traditional form.
The mouth waters at mention of this word. Kataifi is a sweet dessert made of shredded filo pastry of the same name soaked in a sweet syrup, with honey and nuts.
Loosely translated to spinach pie, this is a traditional Greek dish made of feta, snitch and filo pastry.
Shortened from the sarkeftes, which basically translates into chopped meat, kefta is a meatball-like dish made from minced lamb, beef, chicken, pork. It can be served on skewers or in sauce and may also be known a kofta.
Fried balls of sweet dough coated with honey and cinnamon.
A little fish, lightly fried and served whole.
Wondering about that hero of your potential dish? Well arni means lamb, brizola is steak, and kotopoulo is chicken.
A flavourful Greek eggplant dip.
Meza, mezze, mezes, mezedes
A series of small dishes enjoyed as a shared meal or at the commencement of a meal.
Translating into “variety” pikilia refers to a selection of appetisers.
Saganaki refers to any series of small dishes prepared with a small frying pan called a sagani. Therefore saganaki squid is squid fried in this small pan. Saganaki is most commonly associated with an appetiser of fried cheese.
We realise you’re probably familiar with this one but souvlaki is derived from the Ancient Greek word souvla, or skewer. Known as souvlaki in northern Greece, and commonly referred to as kalamaki in southern Greece, it describes small pieces of meat and vegetables grilled on a skewer, which may also be served in pita bread accompanied by sauces.
This word too has made the common lexicon, but is a strained yoghurt with cucumbers and garlic.
Translating to “stuffed with”, yemista generally refers to a series of vegetables and fruits like tomato, eggplant, and zucchini stuffed with a flavoursome filling.
About George’s Mediterranean Bar and Grill
At George’s Mediterranean Bar and Grill we proudly share our Greek heritage within a modern Australian environment at our waterslide Darling Harbour location.