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Dakos or Koukouvagia: Cretan Rusk Salad

Dakos or Koukouvagia:  Cretan Rusk Salad

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Dakos or Ntakos, (pronounced NTAH – kos) is the name of a Cretan barley rusk. 

This salad is made using this rusk as its base and it is topped with finely chopped tomatoes, capers and olives, topped with xinomyzithra (a whey cheese made in Crete) or a mixture of feta and anthotyros (similar to ricotta) and flavoured with oregano.

Dakos Cretan salad picture

The rusk is also called krithrokoulouro or Koukouvagia (owl) in Crete, but to be frank I don’t know why they are so called.

Probably because the rusks look like the owl’s eyes 🙂 

Dakos is a healthy and delicious salad or a light meal on its own and very healthy.

Our visit to Crete

Chania panoramic picture
Panoramic picture of Chania

From all the places I have been in Greece, Crete is my favourite.

The Cretan people are wonderful and very hospitable.

Chania Lighthouse image
Chania Lighthouse

Wherever you go they will offer you tsikoudia also called raki or what is called tsipouro in other parts of Greece, Zivania in Cyprus or grappa in Italy.

Tsikoudia is an alcoholic drink made from leftover pomace after making wine.

fountain at Chania image
Fountain at Chania

Tsikoudia or Raki

Tsikoudia or Raki is the traditional Cretan alcoholic drink, which is made from the leftovers of the grapes when making wine.  

The pomace is distilled and what is produced is a very strong drink containing 35 – 65% alcohol.  

It has a very strong taste and this you will receive as a treat from the locals in every village, city, restaurant, or coffee shop.

Even when traveling on the Cretan ships you will be offered tsikoudia.

By accepting it is a confirmation of a new friendship and part of the welcoming procedure.

A couple of shots are enough to make you stumble so don’t overdo it if you don’t want to get drunk.

Their food is fantastic. Spicy and aromatic.There isn’t a single herb you can’t find in Crete.

When we were traveling to Sfakia, we stopped near the edge of a gorge and I picked some sage.  

Travelling around you will see the goats on all hillsides, and maybe that’s the reason the meat is so nice and tasty.  

As for their cheeses, most of them are unique and not made in other parts of Greece, staka, malaka, xynomyzithra, myzithra, graviera, kefalograviera, the list is endless.

Rethymno lighthouse image
Rethymno lighthouse

No wonder why every neighbourhood in Athens, has its Cretan products’ shop.

There is one just near my house and today I got the barley rusks and myzithra.

Elounda sea front image
Elounda sea front

Most of the herbs I have, I’ve brought them from Crete when I visited during summer.

Aghios Nikolaos image
Aghios Nikolaos

Dakos Salad

One of our favourite things we used to eat in Crete is Dakos Salad.

What is a Dakos rusk?

Dakos rusks, either big or small ones, are bread made with barley, which are shaped round, sort of like a bun, and then baked.

Then they are cut in the middle and baked again, until they dry. This makes them very hard.

So, to use them, they are wet under the tap just for a few seconds or quickly dipped into a bowl with water to make them soft.

Some people prefer to wet them with extra virgin olive oil.

Finely cubed (not grated) tomatoes, together with pitted olives and capers are added on top, to add extra moisture, and soft fresh xinomyzithra cheese, salt and oregano are added on top of the tomato mixture.

(I also like to add some finely chopped fresh basil in the tomato).

Finally, some more extra virgin olive oil and oregano are added on top.

In Chania, they use xynomyzithra, a local cheese which is produced only in Chania and is something between feta and myzithra.  

A mixture of feta and myzithra or anthotyros (whey cheeses similar to ricotta) will also work well.  

An amazing salad which by itself can also be a hearty and a light meal.

Dakos salad served picture
Dakos Salad image

Dakos Salad

Yield: 4
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes

Dakos is a Cretan salad made with barley rusk, finely chopped tomato, capers and olives, topped with Xinomyzithra (a local Cretan cheese).


  • 2 small or 1 big barley rusks
  • 2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 ripe tomatoes, cut into 1 cm dice
  • Sea salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • ½ tsp dried oregano
  • 4 olives, pitted and cut into smaller pieces
  • 1 tbsp capers
  • A couple of basil leaves, finely cut
  • 150 grams xinomyzithra or crumbled feta cheese and anthotyro
  • More olive oil and oregano to serve


  1. Wet the rusks with water and then add a tablespoon of olive oil.
  2. Cube the tomatoes and season with salt, pepper and oregano.
  3. Add the remaining olive oil as well as the olives, capers and basil and mix.
  4. Spread the tomato mixture over the dakos.
  5. Add the crumbled cheese on top.
  6. Finally drizzle the leftover olive oil and a sprinkle of some more oregano on top.


In Chania, they use xynomyzithra, a local cheese which is produced only in Chania and is something between feta and myzithra.

A mixture of feta and myzithra or anthotyros (whey cheeses similar to ricotta) will also
work well.

Nutrition Information
Yield 4 Serving Size 1
Amount Per Serving Calories 236Total Fat 16gSaturated Fat 7gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 8gCholesterol 35mgSodium 579mgCarbohydrates 18gFiber 3gSugar 3gProtein 7g

Did you make this recipe?

Tried this recipe? Tag me @ivyliac and use the hashtag #kopiaste!

Collage Dakos salad image

Kopiaste and Kali Orexi!

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Friday 31st of March 2017

I have come to appreciate the smaller sized DAKOS with finely chopped pieces of olive flesh scattered through the rusks. By their inclusion of the olive bits, the rusks are marginally softer to crunch upon. The flavour is definitely enhanced. Instead of making this lovely tomato and feta salad, when you have olives embedded in the rusk they make an ideal dip into any meat stew or thick soup taken in winter.


Saturday 1st of April 2017

Hello Gerald. Glad to know about this. I will see if I can find them in Nafplio.

Peter M

Sunday 23rd of December 2007

Crete is still on my "to do" list.

Dakos from Cretan barley rusks are delicious and healthy.

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