Perfect for entertaining, sharing dips is the best way to start or serve as an accompaniment to a meal and a great way to share some food with friends over an ouzo or tsipouro – mezze style. A Greek table is often dressed with a dip, and depending on what you are eating, and what region of Greece you are from, the dip will always change. But there are some traditional staples to Greek cuisine.
Dips are a condiment, used to add texture to food and flavour to main meals. And given that bread, such as pita or just a general crunchy loaf, plays a leading role on the Greek table, a dip goes hand-in-hand with this carbohydrate.
The basis of the dip changes depending on what it is but given that yoghurt is a staple, and yoghurt is so common as a dairy product, and so easily available in villages in Greece, it’s little wonder why so many Greek dips are started with this product. But beans are also crushed down to form the basis of a dip. Fava beans and broad beans are the most common, so too are vegetable based products such as beetroot and eggplant, two very common dips in Greece.
One of the most recognisable dips in Greek cuisine is taramosalata (tarama). This roe based dip has become a staple on Greek menu’s Australia wide. But it has also sparked an ongoing debate over whether or not taramosalata should be white or pink. Real taramosalata is white. If you find yourself dipping a hot pita into pink dip then you can be guaranteed it has been processed and has been saturated with food colourings.
Bought tarama from your supermarket, sometimes also called caviar dip, appears pink. Because of this, people are creating an assumption that tarama is supposed to be pink. Why pink? Because fish roe is red, and when mixed with the bread and olive oil it needs to form the dip, it can sometimes take on a pink tinge, which has then been exaggerated to be a pastel pink. This pink colour is what we assume tarama should look like. But, as people are creating more hearty, homely and traditional foods, they are becoming familiar with the traditional taramosalata. The white taramosalata.
Tzatziki is a common dip throughout different regions of Greece. It is made of salted strained yoghurt or yoghurt mixed with cucumbers, garlic, salt, olive oil, with sometimes vinegar or lemon juice, and some herbs like dill, mint, parsley and thyme. Commonly served with meats, this dip goes hand in hand with lamb on the spit, or just a simple pork souvlaki.
Tirokafteri is a cheese spread that changes the intensity of heat, and the type of cheese from region to region, but ingredients most commonly include feta (sometimes combined with one or more other types of soft, white cheeses), hot peppers (such as red cherry pepper), roasted peppers, olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, yoghurt, or oregano. The dish has a spicy, salty taste, with mellow undertones of olive oil.
Skordalia is a potato based dip that is mashed with garlic and lemon juice and served with parsley too. This dip is used mainly to accompany bakaliaro (salted cod) – to break up the saltiness of the fish.
There are so many glorious dips that make up the Hellenic cuisine – too many to mention, but the ones mentioned are pretty much the main players. Go forth and enjoy as many as you can and mix and match dips with main meals and see what you like best! Always be adventurous.