Gastronomy in Rhodes
From antiquity to the present day, the basic ingredients of Greek Gastronomy have been olive oil, honey, herbs, legumes, cereals, nuts and most of all fish & sea food. Important elements such as “feta” and “mizithra”, Greek cheeses made from sheep’s and goat’s milk, hand kneaded bread, vegetables, and fruits, compose the Greek cuisine. Even more important is the way these dishes are prepared and cooked to adorn the Rhodian table while being accompanied by the traditional local sweets. Rhodian wines of rare grape varieties, with a superior quality protected Designation of Original, cultivated in the mountainous areas of the island, are an ideal accompaniment for all local delicacies.
Fine cuisine lovers from around the world have the chance to savor local dishes which combine tradition and modern trends in gastronomy. The Island’s recipes have been formed and altered through centuries of eastern and western conquests and invaders. Ottoman, Venetians, Franks and Italians have marked Rhodes cuisine. Multiple elements from a crossroad of cultures and neighboring continents such as Asia, Africa and Europe, have influenced the Island’s cuisine which preserved the Mediterranean identity.
Rhodes’ cuisine always had a rich variety in flavors. Basic ingredients used in the island’s recipes are wheat and olives thanks to the land’s fertile grounds which facilitate cultivation. Organic meat, fresh fish and seafood based dishes, as well as a wide variety of desserts made with cereals, olive oil, nuts, fruits, honey and herbs, compose the uniqueness of Rhodes’ cuisine.
The uses of the traditionally maintained natural ingredients create simple and nutritious meals. Commonly used in traditional recipes of the island is the bulgur wheat (couscous), various pasta like trachana, macaroni, hilopites (egg noodles made in linguine-sized strips, cut into small pieces) and vegetables such as wild greens, herbs, vine leaves, red pumpkins, onions, caper and green beans.
Local traditional dishes
While visiting the Island of Rhodes don’t miss the chance to savour local traditional dishes! Nibble on delicious appetizers such as pitaroudia (fried chickpea-balls with chopped mint, onions and tomato), zucchini-balls and stuffed cyclamen leaves with lentils.
As for the main dishes, it is definitely worth savouring the stew made with wild greens (known as vlita) and purslane, stuffed vegetables “gemista” (tomatoes, peppers, zucchinis, and courgette flowers), oven baked kolokoudi (pumpkin), green-red pole beans, with tomato and pepper, karavolous (snails cooked in tomato sauce with onions and cumin or oatmeal), meat and vegetable entrada, goat cooked in a narrow, tall, ceramic pot (called pydiako), chicken with gruel, spetzofai (baked sausages with peppers and onions), hen with loukoumi (a type of pasta) and goat meat with lopia (a dry bean or chickpea) called lacana. Amarangoi is a loved dish by locals on Rhodes, which is boiled with vinegar daisy’s shoots served with skordalia (puree made with crushed garlic and potatoes/bread).
The cyclamens known as kamilakia in Rhodes have a special and unique place in the local cuisine. The delicious dolmades dish is made out of blanched cyclamens’ tender leaves, stuffed with rice and cooked in a pot where they finally pour a mixture of eggs and lemon juice (known as avgolemono).
Rhodes Island also produces a number of exceptional cheese varieties (from soft to hard) especially in the mountainous villages.
A mouth-watering spoon sweet, made out of cyclamen’s bulbs, is also produced on the island; the bulbs are peeled and scraped, boiled to take the bitterness away and sugar and nutmeg is finally added.
Sweets from the island of the knights
Sweets from Rhodes are famous. The traditional sweet melekouni is served on special events such as engagements, baptisms, weddings, name days and birthdays. It has a soft honey’s texture with orange peel, cinnamon and nutmeg flavours. In older days, instead of wedding invitations people used to send out a small diamond shaped melekouni to friends and relatives.
Try mantinades (a small fried thin piece of dough which is soaked in honey, rose water and sprinkled with crushed almonds), moschopougkia (a sweet served on joyful occasions, filled with nuts, dry bread and spices), tachinopita (little baked pies, smeared with a paste mixture of sesame, sugar, cinnamon and clove and rolled into a cylindrical form), and last but not least the paste of kaisi; this is an apricot paste, made by the whole fruit or by its peel, served as a spoon sweet.
Rhodes delicious dishes are served with savoury local wines from the island’s wineries. A local drink to try while in Rhodes is the local Souma drink.