Food To Try While In Santorini
Updated: Apr 12, 2021
Mediterranean food is an amalgamation of colour, texture, smell and taste! The sun, the soil and the years of cultural influence from the surrounding regions, gives the food here its unique identity. There dramatic views from the caldera, the warmth of the sun and the smoky deliciousness of the food is simply unbeatable! Each meal adds more wow factor to your day, so like always, we indulged in a variety of cuisines. Here are some of the delicious food we ate while in Santorini.
Yemista – Stuffed tomato and Pepper
Yemista – Stuffed tomato and Pepper: Yemista (pronounced as ‘gemista’) is a traditional Mediterranean dish and an integral part of Greek cuisine. Made with summer vegetables like tomato, bell pepper, courgette or aubergine stuffed with rice, spices and herbs and oven baked- this is brightly coloured dish bursts with flavours. Sometime the stuffing also contains ground meat (beef of lamb). Across the Mediterranean there are many variations of Yemista based on different spices and herbs used in its preparation.
Succulent Greek meatballs – Keftethes
Keftethes (Meatballs): Keftethes are succulent Greek meatballs made from ground pork or beef mixed with onion, garlic, herbs (mainly oregano) and spices like cinnamon. Keftethes are either served hot with Tzatziki and pita bread as an appetizer or cold as part of a mezze platter. These can also be part of the main meal when paired with rice and salad. We tried it as a main meal in a small taverna – it was served with rice and a tomato-based sauce.
A must have in anywhere in Greece – Souvlaki (PC – Dr. Anirban Ghosh)
Souvlaki: Probably the most popular Greek food, chicken souvlaki and pork souvlaki are a must-have when in Greece. Souvlaki translates to ‘meat on a stick’ and is exactly that! Marinated bite sized pieces of beef, pork, lamb or chicken on a skewer and cooked on an open fire. These are served with vegetables, fried potatoes, pita, and tzatziki. These are also served wrapped in pita. This quintessential and Greek dish makes for inviting street stalls or tavernas everywhere. It was such a hit with our little traveler that it became his post dinner snack - conveniently picked up every evening from a friendly street stall just opposite our villa!
Traditional and legendary dish of Greece – Moussaka (PC – Dr. Anirban Ghosh)
Moussaka: Moussaka is a legendary dish! Very traditional and made in every Greek household, this creamy delight is somewhat similar to Italian lasagne but with aubergin slices replacing the pasta sheets. Served in almost all tavernas, moussaka is a traditionally made up of three layers, the bottom layer of aubergine slices, a middle layer of juicy grounded beef or lamb in tomato and garlic-based sauce and a top layer of thick creamy cheese based white sauce (béchamel sauce). The layered dish then baked till the top layer turns golden brown. Needless to say this is a a very filling dish and goes well with a glass of Greek wine.
A must have Greek dip – Tzatziki
Tzatziki: A very popular traditional and must-have Greek yogurt dip, Tzatziki accompanies grilled meat and pita, or is served as part of meze or a side dish. It is prepared with Greek yogurt, shredded cucumber, dill and garlic, dressed with salt and olive oil. This refreshing dip goes amazingly well with warm grilled meat and warm pita.
Typical Mediterranean – Grilled Octopus
Grilled Octopus: This simple and tasty dish is a typical example of Mediterranean cuisine and available throughout the island. Fresh locally sourced octopus tentacles are grilled with herbs and olive oil and served on its own as an appetizer or with salad and rice as a meal.
Greek Salad (Choriatiki) – A must have side dish for every Greek meal
Greek Salad (Choriatiki): Greek salad or Choriatiki is a must have side dish for all Greek meals and is part of every taverna menu. Traditional Greek salad is made of sliced tomato, cucumber, green pepper, red onion, Kalamata olives and a large piece of feta cheese and seasoned with olive oil, salt, pepper and oregano. We had Greek salad with almost every meal while in Santorini and continue to make it at home during the summer months.
Popular appetizer – Dolmadakia
Dolmadakia (Stuffed Grape Leaves): Dolmadakia is one of the most traditional appetizer in Greek cuisine. Equally popular along locals and tourists, Dolmadakia are made of edible grape leaves stuffed with rice and herbs like dill, mint and parsley. Fillings of ground beef or lamb are also available. Drizzled with lemon juice and olive oil, this refreshing appetizer is served with Tzatziki.
A popular appetizer and meze dish – Fava bean puree
Greek Fava Bean Puree: Fava puree originated in the island of Santorini and is a traditionally eaten as an appetizer, or forms part of a meze dish. It is made up of yellow split peas or fava beans topped with chopped red onion, lemon juice and drizzle of olive oil. This creamy and hearty dip is often served warm as starter or side dish accompanied by pita bread and is widely available at the tavernas in Santorini.
Saganaki: Saganaki is a small heavy-bottomed frying pan with two-handles. Also known as ‘sagani’ it the word comes the Turkish word Sahan meaning copper dish. Any food cooked on these small heavy frying pans are called saganaki and in Greek cuisine it refers to a wide range of appetizers, the most loved ones being cheese saganaki and shrimp saganaki.
Shrimp Saganaki – Shrimp saganaki is prepared by sautéing the shrimp in olive oil followed by deglazing with traditional Greek ouzo before adding the shrimps into a spicy tomato sauce and finishing it by adding a generous portion of fresh herbs and salty feta cheese. We had our first taste of this delicious appetizer soon after landing in the island in a local taverna near our villa during a sunny and lazy October afternoon.
Fried cheese Saganaki (PC – Dr. Anirban Ghpsh)
Fried Cheese Saganaki: A simple, traditional Greek appetizer, these deep fired pieces of cheese are crunchy outside and soft and warm inside. Traditionally these are made from hard yellow Greek cheese such as graviera or kefalograviera. It is flamed with ouzo and drizzled with honey and served- and is best eaten as soon as served.
Greek dessert - Kataifi (PC – Dr. Anirban Ghosh)
Kataifi: One of the most popular desserts around Greece, Turkey and most part of the Middle East, Greek kataifi got its name from the special thread like pastry dough called Kataifi used to make it. This crispy and moist dessert is made by rolling the filling (chopped walnuts) within thin thread-like strands of pastry and baked until golden. This gives the dessert its appearance- like shredded wheat. It is finished by soaking in lemon flavoured syrup. A freshly made kataifi goes extremely well with a cup of Greek coffee any time of the day!
Typical Mediterranean starter – Fired calamari
Fried calamari with tzatziki sauce: Fried squid or calamari is a typical Mediterranean starter and a meze platter item which is now eaten all over the world. A regular item in menu in almost all tavernas throughout the island of Santorini and other parts of Greece, fried calamari are prepared fresh and paired with tzatziki as dipping sauce.
Kalogeriko Pasta: This traditional home-made pasta dish can be found in most tavernas in Santorini. This pasta dish can be made of meat (mainly beef) or can be made with vegetables. We tried the vegetarian option -with a variety of mushrooms, grilled manouri cheese and truffle oil in a tomato-based sauce.
Greek breakfast with a view
Cold Greek breakfast: We had this every morning while enjoying the view of the caldera and sea from our villa balcony. A wide range of delicious traditional Greek snacks such as Tiropita (cheese pastry), kritsinia (Sesame-Covered Bread Sticks) were served along with honey, cheese, fresh fruits, freshly squeezed orange juice and strong Greek coffee.