Thrace - Greece

Traditional local products of Thrace (Komotini) –Greece and their relation with the history of the region

Thracian cusine has roots to many cultures because this region has been a crossroad of many civilizations and cultures. The long lasting coexistence of the city’s residents bearing different cultural identities is reflected not only upon its space and architectural styles, but also upon everyday culture. One of its most characteristic aspects is the gastronomy of the area as both the city of Komotini and the rest of Rodopi are considered to be a “gastronomical paradise”. The city is a “melting pot” for tastes and cooking traditions that were brougth  in by the refugees who came in the region after the Asia Minor Catastrophe. From Smyrna, Constantinople, Cappadokia, Pontus, Eastern Rumelia, as well as cooking traditions of the repatriated Pontians from Caucasus, Georgia, Black Sea countries. Therefore, the tastes and recipes of eastern cuisine have an eminent presence and a particular place in Komotini. So there are distinct influences of traditional tastes from East Romilia, Cappadocia, Pont, Turkey, Armenia, Sarakacan and Roma people. Hence, the Thracian cusine is an alloy of strong intense flavors, oily salty and spicy benefiting local quality ingredients.

Local products:

Grapes of fine quality exporting to consume or produce wine.

Wine: Homer described Ancient Thrace as the land, which would make great wine. The grape varieties chosen for cultivation were: Roditis, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Malvasia, Limnio, Syrah, Merlot and Grenache Rouge

Olives & olive oil Maronia in Thrace produces excellent olives, as well as an exquisite extra virgin olive oil, the reputation of which goes beyond the borders of our country

Cherries Offering cold sour cherry and cherry juice and selling of sweet cherry, it is celebrated the Sour Cherry festival which is organized every year on the 7th of July in Komotini.

Traditional yogurt excellent local product

Legumes (pulses) such as lentils, cheek peas and soybeans

Cheese of traditional methods and using quality local milk

Roasted cheek peas with a variety of tastes, plain, salty, spicy or sweet

Tachini a spreadable paste made of roasted sesame and Middle-East origins

Sucuk Lokum is a sweet delight based on a gel of starch and sugar. A Turkish recipe with a wide variety of form and flavor

Coffee of Komotini is a well maintained tradition based on the method of roasting the seeds, boiling the water and the deliver to enjoy.

Salepi is a flour, made from the tubers of an orchid genus, consumed in beverages and desserts

Mahlebi is a delicious, aromatic cream made with milk, vanilla, sugar and rose water that is served with chopped pistachio nuts

Shamali is a traditional cake recipe, made with semolina instead of flour and yogurt instead of milk, with blends of mastic and garnished with a lemon and rosewater scented syrup

Saragli a traditional delight rolls that are crunchy and syrupy with a pistachio, almond and walnut filling,, milk butter and thin crust sheets

Ariani is a sour milk made of milk yogurt and salt with great origins in Oriental culture

Ouzo is a traditional well joined local product, a dry anise flavored aperitif that is widely consumed in Greece

Tsipouro is a strong distilled spirit containing 40-45% alcohol by volume and is produced from the pomace, the residue of the wine press. It comes in two types: pure and anise-flavoured

Vergina beer brewed by a small company in Komotini has a variety of beer types (premium lager, strong lager, black lager, weisse, red ale), exporting globally.

Alipasta, is a traditional local product referring to salted meats particularly fish fillet or small hole fishes preserved in salt.

Traditional dishes

Pastourma: Greek traditional highly seasoned, air-dried cured beef from Cappadokia. Τo make pastırma the meat is salted and rinsed before being dried and pressed. After the first drying period the meat is cold pressed for up to 16 hours. This aids the process of removing moisture from the meat. After the first pressing, the meat is dried for several days during which the fats melt and form a white layer. The second press is a "hot press". Finally, the dried and pressed meat is covered with a spice paste called çemen. Çemen is made from a paste of ground fenugreek seeds, red pepper and mashed garlic. The dried product is covered with the wet paste and left to dry again. The entire process takes approximately one full month.

Kavourmas (cooked/preserved meat) : Thracian sausage from Pontus, is a sausage which literally means “roasted”. It is a traditional meat product with a special taste due to its manufacturing process but also because of its high nutritional value, which justifies its price. It consists of boiled pieces of meat (kid, buffalo, sheep or beef, depending on the region) mixed with the broth and cooked with spices in the animal’s fat.  It is eaten raw, cut into small pieces or added to recipes giving its special taste to pies, omelets etc. It is also made at home and preserved in the animal’s fat.

Thracian Gioufkades Pasta: Ingredients: Fine semolina, eggs, milk, flavor. Like noodles.

Couscous: Was traditionally made from the hard part of the durum, the part of the grain that resisted the grinding of the millstone. The semolina is sprinkled with water and rolled with the hands to form small pellets, sprinkled with dry flour to keep them separate, and then sieved. Any pellets that are too small to be finished granules of couscous fall through the sieve and are again rolled and sprinkled with dry semolina and rolled into pellets. This labor-intensive process continues until all the semolina has been formed into tiny granules of couscous. In the traditional method of preparing couscous, groups of women came together to make large batches over several days, which were then dried in the sun and used for several months. Handmade couscous may need to be rehydrated as it is prepared; this is achieved by a process of moistening and steaming over stew until the couscous reaches the desired light and fluffy consistency.

Trahana:  Is made by mixing flour, yoghurt or sour milk, and optionally cooked vegetables, salt, groats, and spices letting the mixture ferment, then drying, and usually grinding and sieving the result. The fermentation produces lactic acid and other compounds giving tarhana its characteristic sour taste and good keeping properties.

Manti: Dumplings typically consist of a spiced meat mixture, usually lamb or ground beef in a dough wrapper, and either boiled or steamed. Manti are typically served topped with yoghurt and garlic, and spiced with red pepper powder and melted butter.

Sarma: It is a dish of two linings of internal fat which are filled with minced meat (lamp liver) and rice.

Babo: It’s a Christmas dish. Pork intestine field with minced meat, small pieces of lamp liver, rice, leek and spices.

Thracian tsigarides with leeks: In the older days Thracians used to breed pigs which they slaughtered at Christmas. They kept the fat parts under the skin, diced them and then placed them in a large pot and fried them at low heat for quite some time until the lard melted and only the tsigarides were left.

Stuffed cock with stuffed pickled cabbage rolls:  A traditional recipe in Thrace and Eastern Rumelia that is prepared on Christmas Day or on New Year’s Day.

Cabbage roll, filled with minced meat and rice and herbs. They served with lemon sauce.

Soutzoukakia from Smyrna: Are spicy sausage-shaped meatballs, which are cooked in tomato sauce.

pastourma pies

Dolmadakia: Are rolled vine leaves, stuffed with a mix of spring onions, rice and herbs.

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