Skordalia: The Garlicky Greek Dip You Have To Try

food, skordalia: the garlicky greek dip you have to try

Bowl of skordalia

The humble potato can transform into a variety of iconic dishes that span the globe, and one potato dish that appears to be a universal comfort food is mashed potatoes. In the United States, no Thanksgiving table or takeout box from KFC is complete without a bowl of buttery mashed potatoes. In India, mashed potatoes are mixed with spices to create the common side dish aloo bharta. There are also twists on what we consider the ‘basic’ mashed potato recipe like the deliciously cheesy, French aligot and bacon-filled brændende kærlighed from Denmark, per The Daily Meal.

Although there are many methods for making mashed potatoes, a common starting point is boiling the potatoes, then mashing them with a lot of butter and sometimes cream. The massive amounts of butter are a reflection of French influence, but in Greece, they make their mashed potatoes a bit differently. The garlicky Greek dip known as skordalia shows that you can make creamy and satisfying mashed potatoes without hammering them with dairy products.

The History Of Skordalia

food, skordalia: the garlicky greek dip you have to try

Skordalia in a bowl next to olives and crackers

Skordalia is a recipe that was used long before the introduction of the potato into the Greek diet. The Byzantine empire, which stretched over Greece to the boot of Italy and throughout Turkey beginning around 330 A.D. made skordalia using Mediterranean parsnips, nuts, and bread and used it as a sauce to cover their meats, fish, and vegetables (via The Food Dictator). And before lemons were heavily integrated into the region, sour grape juice (basically vinegar) was used to add acidity to the dish.

The heavy dose of garlic in this recipe is not surprising because, in ancient Greece, garlic was utilized to give strength and energy to manual laborers and Olympic athletes, per a 2001 study in the Journal of Nutrition. Additionally, Hippocrates, a famed Greek physician, reportedly used garlic to treat many bodily ailments.

Kopiaste says that, traditionally, skordalia was created using an old-fashioned mortar and pestle, but today thanks to modern technology, it is much easier to use a food processor or blender.

How Skordalia Is Made And Recipe Variations

food, skordalia: the garlicky greek dip you have to try

Woman peeling potatoes

The name “skordalia” may originate from the Greek word for garlic which is skorðo, because, while the dish is made using a base of potatoes, garlic is the prominent flavor (via The Mediterranean Dish). According to The Guardian, skordalia is a potato, garlic, and lemon dip made with tons of greek olive oil and pureed until smooth. Nuts such as walnuts or almonds are also, at times, blended into the mix or placed on top. The dip is meant to taste super smooth, fluffy, and rich in earthy flavors from the potatoes and nuts, which are contrasted by the massive amount of aromatic garlic and acidic lemon added to it.

Although this is a simple dish with ingredients that are easily acquired, there are a few variations on the classic recipe. Take this parsnip skordalia, for example, which has a nuttier, slightly sweeter flavor than the traditional potato version. Other recipes replace the potatoes with bread, and Olive Tomato notes that potato-based skordalia is creamier, while bread-based recipes tend to be grainier. Unlike other mashed potato dishes, skordalia does not use cream, milk, or butter and relies on the texture of its boiled potatoes and quality olive oil to carry the recipe.

How Skordalia Is Typically Served

food, skordalia: the garlicky greek dip you have to try

Skordalia on a plate with fish on a Greek flag

If skordalia sounds like a recipe you can get down with, 196 Flavors dictates that the dish can be served as a mezzé (a small shared dish), so it would be perfect to add to your dip spread on a game day or a fun appetizer for any party. It’s especially delicious when it’s scooped up with a warm piece of pita bread, but it can also be used as a sauce for a variety of entrees, with fish being the most popular.

In fact, skordalia is one of the star ingredients in the traditional Greek holiday dish “bakaliaros skordalia,” which features the classic combination of cod and the garlicky dip. This dish is eaten on March 25th in honor of the start of the long-fought Greek War of Independence of 1821 and the Annunciation of the Virgin Mary.

So if you’re looking for a way to add more potatoes to your diet — aren’t we all? — add the creamy, tangy, and garlicky skordalia to your recipe roster.

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