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A Guide to Greek Food: Essential Herbs and Spices

Known for its freshness and flavour, Greek cuisine is beloved across the globe. While regional variations and adaptions are always going to be found, Greek food in Sydney, Santorini or San Francisco has its defining elements. In traditional dishes, some hundreds of years old, local ingredients are lovingly prepared with essential herbs and spices to create delicious dishes perfect for any occasion.

 

The basics

Greek cuisine can be summed up pretty easily. Take fresh ingredients (meat, seafood and vegetables), add salt, pepper, herbs and spices and prepare using quality Greek olive oil. And the final essential ingredient? In keeping with the relaxed lifestyle, Greek food is all about simplicity.

 

Seasonings in keeping with this simplicity are used to enhance rather than change the flavour of fresh natural produce. Greece produces sea salt of a very high quality and it’s used to bring out the flavour of meat, fish and vegetables. And plain black pepper is a staple at meal times.

 

Add some herbs

Like much Mediterranean cuisine, Greek food has traditionally used freshly grown herbs and spices. Some of those frequently found in local dishes include:

  • Oregano – Oregano is a Greek cooking staple, adding flavour to succulent meats, baked vegetables, crisp salads and divine sauces.
  • Thyme – Also common in many Greek households, locally-grown thyme flavours cooked meats, olives and even Greek honey.
  • Mint – Refreshing mint is an essential ingredient in keftedes (meatballs) and salads, especially when paired with tomato.
  • Sage – Grown in the mountains, sage is a popular ingredient in Greek tea.
  • Dill – This delicate herb can be found in pitas, salads and dolmades.
  • Parsley – Another salad favourite, parsley can also be found in a variety of cooked meat and vegetable dishes, prepared as usual with quality, local olive oil.

And the spices

Spices used in Greek cooking aren’t of the burning hot variety, but they are used to add zest to a range of both savoury and sweet dishes.

  • Cumin – Cumin adds bite (without the burn) to meatballs known as soutzoukaki.
  • Cloves – Cloves are popular in many breads and sweets, and in stifado, a classic Greek beef stew.
  • Cinnamon – Another staple of the Greek pantry, cinnamon can be found in many meat dishes, sauces and tasty desserts.

 

And where to discover the flavour

Looking for a Greek restaurant in Sydney? At Georges, we pride ourselves on the quality and authenticity of our cuisine, presented in beautiful surrounds in one of Sydney’s most atmospheric waterfront locations. In keeping with traditional Greek cooking, our menus make the most of local produce. And what to try if you’re looking to discover the wonderful essential herbs and spices of Greek food? How about some of the following?

  • Hortokeftedes dumplings with fresh herbs and yoghurt.
  • Grilled haloumi cheese with compressed watermelon and mint.
  • Lamb ribs marinated in wild honey, thyme and almond sauce.
  • King prawns wrapped in kataifi pastry with lemon and dill aioli.
  • Award-winning Greek feta cheese with olive oil and wild oregano.
  • Lamb kefta with spices and tomato salad.
  • Slow roasted Greek lamb with lemon oregano potatoes.

Ready to savour the wonderful Greek flavours? Then why not book a table with us for a family lunch, romantic dinner or even a corporate function with flair?