It is common knowledge that Greek cuisine is one of the most delicious in the world. Yet, what many tourists and visitors don’t know is that Rhodes has its own, regional culinary recipes that have enriched the nation’s cuisine.
Lovers of all things meaty and doughy, the people of Rhodes found the perfect way to combine the best of ingredients in the most mouthwatering dishes. From sweet and savoury pies to meaty pots, pastries and even pasta, there is something for everyone’s palate.
The traditional recipes have passed throughout the ages from mouth to mouth…quite literally. Based on local fresh products from the earth such as legumes, olive oil and wine, as well as livestock products, honey and nuts, the Rhodian cuisine distinguishes itself for its delicacies.
Yet, if one thing characterizes Rhodes’ culinary tradition the most, that would have to be one specific spice: cumin, or what they call the “Long Smell”. Whether you have a sweet tooth or are craving a meat-based dish with some bread on the side, cumin will be starring in most of your foods, so don’t say that I did not warn you!
The unique flavours, distinct aromas, and special local products are just a few of the things the island can be proud of, so even if you were thinking of spending your holidays in Athens, a short trip to Rhodes is always a good idea.
However, while in Athens, why not explore the best food tours and experiences the Greek capital has to offer? The easyGuide team of travel fanatics wants to help travelers, tourists and locals discover the best of what every city has to offer, so do not miss out on discovering tickets to top attractions, experiences, and tours, always at the best price.
But for now, let’s get a taste and explore the top traditional foods to try in Rhodes before we have you jumping on a plane or ship to get here!
Fasolada is a traditional food that Greek people swear by. White cooked beans in a tomato juice are the basis of the dish, but Rhodians have taken this dish up a notch. The Rhodian fasolada is enriched with the tastiest of local goat meat, while the white beans from Katavia turn this dish into a 100% local speciality.
If you love falafel, pitaroudia is going to become your go-to food. Mushed chickpeas combined with chopped tomatoes and onions are shaped into what is to become the tastiest fritter you have ever tried. What makes these fritters so special is the addition of fresh mint and parsley that turn them into the perfect Greek mezze to accompany a shot of ouzo or a cold beer!
Going through the lists of traditional foods to try in Rhodes island, you will most probably get introduced to the Greek stuffed peppers. Sometimes stuffed only with rice, others with the addition of minced meat, the stuffed peppers are a summer dish that smells like home. However, in Rhodes, you will get to try them the local way.
What is that? Rhodians love their bulgur and they substitute rice with it in most recipes. Rich in magnesium, fibre and protein, bulgur is a much more nutritious choice that makes this traditional Greek dish ten times better!
If you believed that pasta is exclusively an Italian thing, you might want to think twice. Greek people have a long history of pasta-making and Rhodes has a prominent place in this tradition. “Matsi” is one example of pasta made from scratch on the island. Its name changes across the different regions, where you will find it in different sizes and shapes, but its taste stays the same.
If you do not know what to eat them with, the locals have some suggestions. One of the best would be syvrasi, matsi, that is, topped with crisp-fried onions.
Even though Crete is mostly known for its snail specialities, the Rhodian cuisine is also famous for its snail-based dish, karavoli. Hot snails cooked in a pot with tomato sauce, onions and wild greens create a juicy dish that has everyone wanting more!
After a short break, let’s go back to the meaty dishes. Next on this list is the Rhodian lakani, a local dish that you will not find in other places in Greece. Lakani consists of slow-cooked chickpeas, mixed with Rhodian trahanas (another type of Greek pasta you will absolutely love) or wheat, and succulent pieces of goat meat.
I must be honest with you here and say that this is probably my favourite of the best traditional foods to try in Rhodes. However, the secret behind the unbeatable taste of lakani lies in the addition of a couple of cinnamon sticks and, of course, cumin.
If you happen to be invited to a wedding, you will get the chance to try “koulouria”, the traditional pasta cooked in the broth of goat, beef, or pork bones and served with shredded “kefalotiri” (Greek gruyere cheese) and butter.
Yet, this dish is so famous that you will find it in many restaurants and feasts across the island, so don’t worry if none of your friends is getting married when in Rhodes!
How about something sweet?
You would never think to turn pasta into a dessert, but Rhodes is the island that can make everything happen. Put some matsi on a plate, add some milk, sugar, and cinnamon. What you’ll get is “matsoalo”, a traditional Rhodian dessert that all kids love!
Protein nut bars are a go-to snack not just for athletes, but also for busy people and those who are always on the go. Melekouni is the Rhodian version of a nut bar and, trust me when I say this, it’s ten times better!
And no, having a piece of melekouni doesn’t mean that you have to work or work out during your holidays. Nutritious as it is, you can indulge in this healthy snack any time of the day, especially when you want some extra boost to keep on exploring the beauties of the island.
Different from all the classic desserts you can try in the shape of a cake, melekouni is made with sesame, local thyme honey, whole almonds, and orange zest. You read that right, no sugar at all, just the finest honey you can get and, drum roll…. lots of spices! Cinnamon, coriander, nutmeg, clove, and a bit of mastiha are all added to the batter to give melekouni its incomparable taste and chewy texture.
For last, I have kept the most traditional of all the desserts. This might sound like a trip back in time, but to this day, many brides in Rhodes make moschopougkia to offer them to their mothers-in-law once they are engaged to their beloved sons.
However, moschopougkia taste so good that one cannot always wait for an engagement to taste them, which is why they are also baked during weddings, celebrations, and national holidays, like May 1st.
Almonds, sugar and orgeat, dusted with the necessary spices – yes, we are again talking about cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves– are wrapped around a handmade dough that is then fried to perfection. They are then dipped in some rose water before they are sprinkled with a generous dose of icing sugar. In the shape of a half-moon, just a bite of moschopougkia will take you to the moon and back!
These are only a few of the traditional foods to try in Rhodes. And because love passes through the stomach, I am pretty sure that you will fall in love with the island, and it is going to be a love at first… bite!
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