Cretan Cuisine & Best Dishes

Cretan gastronomy is famous worldwide! Fresh and natural ingredients combined with Cretan olive oil create a unique, healthy and flavorsome cuisine.    

Whilst visiting Crete, we suggest you try some of the most traditional dishes that the island has to offer!

Kalí óreksi! 

 

Antikristo – Lamb

The number one dish in Crete when you talk about lamb is Antikristo (popular during Easter, weddings, special celebrations). The name derives from the cooking method which literally means “across the fire”; the only thing you need to prepare this dish is fire and salt.

This was the shepherd’s method of cooking meat in the mountains, as they needed no utensils or special skills.

If you come across one of the places, where they serve Antikristo, do not miss the chance to try it!

Apáki – Smoked pork

The “apáki” is made from pork. It is first marinated for two or three days in strong vinegar made of Cretan wine; it is then smoked with aromatic herbs and wrapped in a layer of spices and herbs in order to obtain an aromatic taste. It can be eaten as it is or to warm up for a few minutes in the pan, in the oven or on the grill. You can taste it locally or it can be bought in supermarkets that offer Cretan delicacies.

 

Loukaniko – Cretan traditional Sausage

A traditional Cretan semi – cured handmade pork sausage, which is smoked over aromatic wood.  You can try these in many restaurants or  it can be bought in supermarkets that offer Cretan delicacies.

 

Chochlioí Boumpouristoí – Fried snails  

Every culture and every cuisine has a dish that a lot of people would consider strange. In Crete that could easily be snails.  Snails or “choclioi” is one of the most popular dishes of the Cretan diet!   Snails, after dipped in flour, are fried in olive oil and accompanied by rosemary and vinegar. This dish is mainly found in tavernas outside of the cities.

 

Gamopilafo– Rice of the wedding

A traditional Cretan dish offered in many regions as the primary dish of the wedding feast, consisting of meat and poultry accompanied by rice cooked in the meat broth.  It is a key feature at traditional weddings – as it emphasizes the hosting family’s fertility and wealth by using rice, meat and poultry at the same time. Gamopilafo also makes an appearance at village feasts and many family celebrations. You will find this dish in some tavernas.

 

Dolmadakia – Stuffed vine leaves

Dolmadakia are delicate little wraps made with vine leaves. They are usually stuffed with rice as a vegetarian option or more commonly are served with rice, ground meat and herbs.  Vine leaves are full of nutritional value. Not only are they low in calories, but they have sufficient levels of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and fiber. They can be eaten as a side dish, an appetizer or as a main meal. This plate can be found almost everywhere on Crete!

Psito – Crete’s equivalent of a Sunday roast

This has become a modern tradition of Sunday food, when the whole family gathers, and it is also a popular main course for traditional wedding menus. This is an easy meat dish to prepare (pork or lamb and less popular chicken) with potatoes, slowly cooked in the oven. This is a popular dish served in tavernas; some places offer this from a wood oven.

 

Tyropitakia & Chortopitakia

Very popular mini pies with a variety of different savory fillings. The most common, tyropitakia with cheese filling and chortopitakia with wild greens filling. You can buy them in bakeries; they are also widely served in restaurants.

 

Kolokythoanthoi – Stuffed zucchini flowers

Stuffed zucchini blossoms are a great Greek dish! They are light, delicious and filled with either rice or cheese. Greeks usually serve them with Greek yoghurt.  This is a popular dish served in tavernas.

 

Yemista – Stuffed Tomatoes

Yemistra  is a classic dish stuffed with rice and various herbs; another version can also include minced meat. The original recipe uses tomatoes although other vegetables can be used such as: peppers, zucchinis, aubergines, etc.

 

Sofegada

A relatively unknown, old Cretan recipe that makes best use of home-grown seasonal vegetables.  Hailing from Crete, sofegada is a hearty vegetable stew and it can be made with any seasonal vegetables. It is commonly prepared with any available vegetable (e.g. zucchinis, peppers, potatoes, green beans, aubergines, etc.) and baked in the oven.