Gastronomy and Cuisine
Your visit to Kalymnos is a prime opportunity to taste the specialties of the island. The sweet delicacies, the savory flavors and the pure products coming from the Kalymnian land traditionally satisfy gourmets, who seek them back at every opportunity.
The agricultural products worth trying in Kalymnos are:
- The famous since antiquity, pure honey
- The famous tangerines of Vathys Valley and all citrus fruits (like grapefruits and bergamots)
- The local sweet wine, called Anama
The Eptazimo Bread (seven times kneaded bread) and the Eptazimo Cracker (seven times kneaded cracker) are both kneaded with ouzo and anise. They are products of Byzantine origin that will ideally accompany your meals as well as your coffee.
The most authentic product of Kalymnos though is the ‘Krithini Kouloura‘ (barley bread). It is a kind of rusk that was initially made for sailors, who took it with them when they went away, as it was the only food that could be consumed after a long time without any kind of preservation. Make sure then to purchase anyway a few barley breads, fermented with anise and mastic.
The Kalymnian cheeses are also great for the fans of dairy products. They are ideally combined with the Krithini Kouloura (barley bread) descrived above.
Do not omit to savor the Kalymnian kopanisti cheese, the Kalymnian myzithra cheese (either fresh or dried) and also the Kalymnian kalathaki, which is a salty, semi-hard cheese.
The sea has always been the benchmark for Kalymnos and it identified almost entirely the local life and human activities, including cooking. In Kalymnos you will find a variety of recipes with fish and seafood and you will savor delicacies caught from the clear waters of the Aegean Sea just a few hours before getting to your plate!
Try stuffed squid, fish cooked in every possible way, sundried lobster tail, karkani (a salad with mayonnaise and devil fish), fouskes, and of course spinialo, an amazing appetizer which is prepared by the anglers themselves and includes scallops, sea urchins and devil fish maintained in seawater!
Also, enjoy octopus’s dishes in many variations: octopus dipped in ouzo, octopus grilled or stew, octopus with macaroni or octopus croquettes.
Don’t miss the mououri, a traditional Easter dish of stuffed lamb that is cooked in a clay pot which is sealed with a cap of clay.
All these delicacies can take off savorily with the accompaniment of eptazimo bread, kneaded with anise and ouzo. Remember to ask for fylla (grape leaves stuffed with rice and minced meat) and mermizeli, the salad of Kalymnos with Krithini Kouloura (barley bread), oil, tomato and cheese.
The kalymnian kitchen offers a variety of dishes and flavors that satisfy even the highest standards of meat-eaters and vegetarians in the best
This simple Kalymnian salad uses a type of local round barley rusks called krithini kouloura as its base. The barley rusks are typically lightly softened in water and torn into smaller pieces before they’re combined with finely chopped tomatoes, onions, cheese (usually cream cheese or feta), and plenty of olive oil.
Other common ingredients contained in the salad include slices of Greek sardeles (sardines in oil), capers, olives, cucumbers, sea squirts, and aromatic herbs that grow on the island such as oregano or throumbi (pink savory). In Kalymnos, mermizeli (also known as mirmizeli) salad is offered at almost every traditional tavern, and each of those has its own unique twist on the salad.
Mououri is the name of a traditional lidded clay dish or pot for baking, and the meat delicacy that’s cooked in it. The dish consists of a whole lamb or goat kid that is typically sprinkled generously with salt and pepper and slathered all over with fresh butter before it is stuffed with a combination of chopped lamb’s liver, rice, onions, tomatoes, olive oil, and red wine.
The mixture is usually flavored with aromatic herbs and spices such as bay leaves, cinnamon, cumin, cloves, spearmint, rosemary, allspice, oregano, dill, and pepper. Other common ingredients contained in the filling include pine nuts, currants, eggs, cheese, and ground meat.
Eptazimo is a traditional Greek bread (more precisely a rusk) originating from Kalymnos. Also known as seven-dough bread, it is kneaded seven times without any yeast. The rising agent comes from water-soaked chickpeas – they begin to ferment and foam, and the foam is then gathered and used to prepare the bread.
Eptazimo also contains ouzo, anise, and sesame seeds. One loaf is usually shaped into a braided ring, while the other one is a rectangular-shaped rusk that’s cut into slices before it’s baked in the oven. Once baked, eptazimo is often dunked into water, ouzo, or soups to soften.
Xtapodokeftedes are made from boiling octopus (normally just the tentacles), and kneading them into a mixture while adding fresh ingredients such as garlic, parsley and onion. After rolling them in flour, they are lightly fried and served with a wedge of lemon.
Some of the traditional food that Kalymnians have as their specialty are “fila” which is rolled vine leaves with minced meat and rice stuffing.
Let’s see the recipe and the steps for this delicious Kalymnian meal
1/2 kg of beef
1/2 kg of pork
bones from meat
50 fresh vine leaves
2 large onions, finely chopped
1 ½ glass of carolina rice
4 coarsely chopped tomatoes
1 tbsp. tomato paste
1 tbsp. butter
1 cup olive oil
1 glass of olive oil for cooking
For the eggnog
juice of 3 lemons
- Cut the stalk from the vine leaves and boil them. Leave them in a colander to dry.
- Chop the pieces of beef and pork finely and throw them in a bowl. Add the tomato paste, butter, a little olive oil, salt and pepper.
Wash the rice, add it to the filling and knead to mix the ingredients well. Finally add the onion and a little lemon juice and mix.
- Put some vine leaves in the bottom of a pot, and if you have vines on top, place a layer of bones from the meat.
- Put a spoonful of filling in one of the leaves, fold them and start stacking them in the pot, starting between the bones. In the middle of the pot, put a layer of sliced tomatoes and continue with the remaining dolmadas.
At the end put another layer of fresh tomatoes cut into slices, add a glass of olive oil, a little butter and salt.
- Cover with a plate, add water and cover the pot to cook the leaves, first on high and then over medium heat for about 30 minutes.
- Prepare the eggnog. In a bowl pour the juice from the lemons, the egg white from the eggs and beat. Add 1 glass of broth from the dolmadas, the yolks from the eggs, beating the mixture constantly.
- Pour all the eggnog in the pot, shake the pot and remove from the heat.
Let’s discover The Spinialo a trademark of Kalymnos. It was invented by the sponges of the island to keep the crumb longer from the bubbles they caught.
Bubbles are shells that are difficult to catch, at depths of 20 to 80 meters because they are well hidden in rocks and even better camouflaged and in fact are caught only by sponges. They cling to the rocks and have algae on them like those of the rocks and so they are difficult to distinguish from divers. They are not so rare, but they have an indefinite shape and size and only an experienced eye can distinguish them at the bottom as they are stuck on rocks and closed. You pass them for rocks.
If you catch them, you will finally find that they are soft like a hard sponge and if you dive from 1-2 holes, they also bring out the sea that they hold inside them. Inside they create a bubble in which their flesh is surrounded by a membrane. When you open them and then you discover their wonderful yellow-orange inner world.
Their taste is very unique and others love it, others hate it because it is slightly bitter and strongly iodine. This special taste distinguishes it from all its sea relatives. It can be eaten raw with lemon.
In Kalymnos, the old spongers who knew well the trouble of finding and taking them out, invented a way of preserving the contents from the bubbles, the Spinialo.
They sterilize bottles in which they keep the food from the bubbles together with seawater from the bubbles themselves, a little extra salt and a little olive oil which covers the liquid and does not allow air to enter the seawater and damage the bubbles. These sealed bottles with the spinach are kept in the refrigerator for a long time. The Spinialo is found mainly in Kalymnos and some other islands and is sought after.