Piroshki, were introduced to the Greeks by the Greek Pontiacs* who were forced to leave Pontus and scattered in all parts of the world, the majority of which came to Greece.
Piroshki are made from yeast dough usually fried. You can find them in bakeries or fast food shops, with various fillings.
Their size depends on the occasion. We usually make big ones but bite size piroshkis are best for parties. Who wouldn’t like to eat these for breakfast? I made different kinds, with minced beef, mashed potatoes, mushrooms and some sweet ones with apricots. I have made them in the past with graviera or halloumi and mint and with feta parsley and dill.
Pontos inherently means ‘sea’ in ancient Greek. In Greek mythology, as mentioned by Hesiod, Pontos was the child of Gaia and Aether. The term was used in ancient times for both the Aegean and the Black Seas. The Black Sea area generally, and the region around Trabzon specifically, are where Jason and the Argonauts sailed to find the Golden Fleece in the adventures of the Argonautica of Apollonios the Rhodian.
Historically the Black Sea was initially known as the Axenos (inhospitable) Sea, prior to its colonization by the ancient Ionian Greeks of Miletus and other Greek city states. The first Greek colony established on the northern shores of ancient Anatolia was Sinop circa 800 B.C. After the colonization of the shores of the Black Sea the name changed to Efxinos (hospitable) Sea. In time, other Greeks followed their path and, as numbers grew, more Greek colonies were established along the Black Sea coastline of what is now Turkey, Georgia, Russia, Ukraine, Romania and Bulgaria.
The region of Trapezus, now Trabzon, was also mentioned by Xenophon (430 – 355 BC) Anabasis, when his 10,000 soldiers had reached the Pontic Euxine Sea and cried out ‘Thalassa! Thalassa!’ – “The sea! The sea!”, the local people understood them. They were Hellenes as well and, according to Xenophon, they had been there for over 300 years. Over thousands of years the Trapezus colony, later called the Pontos Pontos region flourished, contributing to the development of a rich civilization with a strong Hellenic basis. This is verified by a various ancient Greek and Roman historians. For example, many accounts exist of the Mythridatic wars and the reign of Mythridates the Eupator and later his son Mythridates II. With the passage of time and the establishment of the Eastern Roman empire Pontos was placed under its control. Pontos remained isolated from the ‘modern’ Greek-speaking world afterward. This isolation however helped maintain the Pontic language with its strong roots to the ancient Greeks. For many years later they lived under Ottoman rule but maintained a strong sense of Hellenism and Greek Orthodoxy.
Throughout its long history Pontos was also inhabited and invaded by the Persians, Romans, Alexander the Great, Germany, Russia and finally, the Turks. The land also had its share of royal rulers such as the Komnenos family, which made Trabzond (Trapezounda) Empire of Trebizond capital from 1204 to 1461. Like other Christians in Asia Minor as Armenians or Assyrians, Pontic Greeks had to face persecution and suffer ethnic cleansing at the beginning of the 20th century (Hofmann 2004). In 1923, after hundreds of years, those remaining were expelled from Turkey to Greece as part of the population exchange between Greece and Turkey defined by the Treaty of Lausanne. ” By courtesy Kallitehniki Stegi Pontion.
The Pontiacs speak the most ancient Greek dialect and then come the Cypriots.
For those who are interested to learn more historical facts, many books have been written on this matter and some of them you can even download them.
For the dough:
Preparation time: 2 hours
Baking time: 30 minutes and 10 minutes for frying
I made 24 big one, 22 small ones and 8 with sweet filling.
- 500 grams all purpose flour
- 1 packet of dried yeast (9 grams)
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1 egg
- ½ cup of lukewarm milk
- 1 egg (egg white for assembly and yolk for wash of pastry)
- Dissolve yeast with half the milk, sugar and 3 tbsp flour. Cover with cling film and a napkin and set aside for about 15 minutes or until it rises.
- In a big bowl add flour, yeast, salt, olive oil and egg and mix with your fingers until the oil and egg have been absorbed.
- Add milk gradually and knead until the dough does not stick on your hands. Add more milk, if necessary. If it is sticky add some more flour.
- Cover and leave it to rise until it doubles in volume.
- When it is ready, flour your working surface and knead the dough for a few seconds and then make a roll which cut into five pieces. Work with one piece and the rest cover with cling film.
- Roll out the dough and then cut each piece of dough into circles using a big cookie cutter or a small plate.
- Beat the egg white with a fork and brush the edges of each circle.
- Add one teaspoon filling on one side and then cover it with the other to form half moons. Press the edges firmly together so that they may stick.
- Let them rest for half an hour.
- Heat the olive oil and fry them on both sides. Place on kitchen paper to absorb excess oil.
- Instead of frying you can brush them with the egg yolk, dissolved with a few tablespoons of water and milk, glaze them on top and bake in a preheated oven to 180 degrees C until golden.
Ground meat filling:
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 300 grams of ground beef
- 1 medium onion, finely chopped
- 3 spring onions (mostly the white part), finely chopped
- 1 cup of parsley
- Salt and pepper to taste
- ½ cup of white dry wine
Heat the olive oil in a non-stick frying pan and sauté onions until translucent.
Add the ground meat and saute until it turns white.
Add the wine, mix and then add salt and pepper and mix until all fluid evaporates.
Remove from the heat and mix in the parsley. Set aside until it cools down.
- ½ kilo pleurotus mushrooms
- 1 big onion, finely chopped
- 1 -2 spring onions, finely chopped
- 1 tablespoon of olive oil
- 1 cup of finely chopped parsley
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1 sprig fresh rosemary, finely chopped
Heat the olive oil and saute the onions and then add mushrooms. Add salt and spices and when done mix in the parsley. Set aside to cool.
- 3 – 4 medium potatoes
- 1 large onion, finely chopped
- 1 -2 spring onions, finely chopped
- 2 – 3 tablespoons of olive oil
- 1 cup of parsley, finely chopped
- Freshly ground black pepper
Peel potatoes and boil until soft. Drain and mash with a potato masher.
In a non stick frying pan saute the onions until golden (but not browned). Add to the mashed potatoes together with the oil, add salt and spices and finally add the parsley.
Set aside until it cools.
Frankfurt (Wiener) or hot dog sausages
Olive oil for frying
Roll our dough about the size of your sausages. Wrap them with dough and fry in hot olive oil.
Apricot Pecans Piroshki
For the sweet filling I used some of the caramelized apricots I had prepared for another recipe.
10 apricots, halved and pitted
¾ of a cup of sugar
A few drops of lime or lemon juice
2 spoonfuls of brandy
1 tbsp butter
½ teaspoon ginger
1 tbsp honey
A few tablespoons of water to wet the sugar
½ cup of roasted pecans, crashed
Wash and dry the apricots.
In a non-stick frying pan heat the butter and add the apricots.
Add the sugar, brandy, lime or lemon juice, honey and gently stir. Add water so that the sugar gets wet and does not burn.
Turn the apricots on the other side as well and as soon as sugar starts caramelizing add ginger and mix.
Set aside to cool and add the roasted crashed pecans on top.
Note: I used 1/2 an apricot for each piroshki. After cutting two pieces of dough and brushing them with egg white, I placed an apricot with some pecans in the centre, covered them with the second piece and then pressed them together to stick.
I glazed them on top with the egg wash as I baked them in a preheated oven to 180 C / 350 F for about 30 minutes, until golden brown.
I am sending this recipe to Sia, of Mansoon Spice, who is hosting the event Weekend Breakfast Blogging, created by Nandita from Saffron Trail.
Kopiaste and Kali Orexi,
Friday 20th of August 2010
Try this filling: boiled eggs and spring onions mixed (in equal parts). Yummy...
Thursday 19th of August 2010
This is typical Russian and has nothing to do with 'Vareniki'... Greeks brought this from Russia (if you are talking about pontiacs), and the name comes from Russian "пирожки'...
Friday 27th of June 2008
I agree with you Cake. Potato piroshki are my favourites as well.
Friday 27th of June 2008
Thanks for all the wonderful background info Ivy. These look devine - I think the potato ones would be my favourite.
Thursday 26th of June 2008
European food culture can be so intertwined....just like our Canadian cuisine. Piroshki are very similar to perogies in Poland, Vareniki in Russia,etc.No matter what they are one of my favourite foods. I sometimes make them but I love it when the ladies of the Ukranian churches have dinners and you can buy them, by the dozens!!!!