Souvlaki plural souvlakia are pieces of meat grilled on a skewer. Souvla in Greek means skewer and souvlaki (plural souvlakia) is the diminutive of souvla (little skewer). The pieces of meat skewered and barbequed on skewers are also called souvlakia.
You can find street vendors selling souvlaki kalamaki, which is skewered meat with a regular piece of bread. However, souvlaki is also sold in pita with lots of onions, tomatoes or tzatziki.
This is not something new. Although some may say that souvaki is similar to the Middle Eastern kebab, we all know that there were Greek colonies all around the Middle East.
Among the numerous artefacts found in Akrotiri of Santorini, there were racks clearly intended for grilling skewers of meat over heated coals, proving that souvlaki dates back at least before the 17th century B.C.
When we made the lamb souvlakia there was no adequate light, so my pictures are not so good.
The marinade makes the meat very tender.
Whenever I make some Cypriot Pita, we make souvlakia and sheftalia and serve them with coleslaw, tomato, cucumber, parsley, onion and lemon. In Cyprus, we also add some pickles but I never find them in Greece. Whenever I visit Cyprus, I always bring some along. Instead of serving them the above classic way, one other great salad to use is Tambouli (tabbouleh).
You must be wondering what’s a donkey doing in a cooking blog? This cute animal is grazing on Mount Hymettus. Certainly, it has nothing to do with this recipe but this donkey has more sense than most people have.
Each summer we have the same problems. Fires! Today, I feel frustrated because this beautiful mountain is once more on fire.
Athens is surrounded by mountains and in the East of Athens is Mount Hemettus which is just near my house. Just a couple of kilometres from where the picture was taken is where I live. It’s a very beautiful mountain and we usually go and walk on its trails. The mountain is long, narrow, rocky and arid, with flora that numbers over 600 plants, consisting mostly of several kinds of pine trees and cypresses but there are also olive trees, fig trees, oak trees, carob trees, judas trees, citrus trees, eucalyptus and many other kinds and lots of bushes. No wonder why the Attic honey is considered to be one of the best in the world. It’s full of laurel and rosemary, thyme and oregano and lots of other kinds. On the lower parts of the mountain, its fauna is, donkeys which are used for transportation where cars do not go, stray cats and dogs but the real fauna consists of rabbits, foxes, turtles, hares, porcupines, serpents and of course lots of birds, among them endangered species. I hope to post some beautiful pictures I have taken of its flora in another post.
Each year a piece of its forest is burnt. Last year it was on our side of the mountain and this time it’s on the other side. As I am writing this, the mountain is still on fire, as fierce winds sweep it towards our side.As I hear on the T.V., they say that it is a malicious forest fire as they heard some explosions before the fire. The fire reached the peak and now it’s on our side of the mountain and the aeroplanes and helicopters are throwing water.
We had power failure because of the fire and you know what that means.No cooking, no ironing, no air condition (the temperature is about 90 degrees, no cold water and no internet).
This is really a coincidence as I planned to write about souvlakia which is one of the most popular street foods in Greece.
Lamb or Pork Souvlakia
- 1 kilo lamb from the shoulder or pork from the neck
Marinade for the pork:
- 1/2 cup Olive Oil
- 1/4 cup lemon juice
Marinade for the lamb:
For 1 kilo meat:
- 100 ml Greek yoghurt
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 2 tbsp mustard
- Black pepper (no salt)
- 1/2 tsp oregano
- 2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
- 2 tbsp lemon juice
- Cut the meat into 1-inch cubes. Let them stand in the marinade for about 1 hour and thread on metal skewers.
- Grill meat over glowing coals, turning until done.
- Remove from the grill and sprinkle with salt, more oregano and lots of lemon juice.
- Alternatively, you can cook them under a very hot grill, turning constantly, so that the meat becomes well seared on the outside and tender and juicy inside.
You can find many more Greek recipes in my cookbook “More Than A Greek Salad”, and “Mint, Cinnamon & Blossom Water, Flavours of Cyprus, Kopiaste!” both available on all Amazon stores.
Other relevant recipes:
Kopiaste and Kali Orexi,