What is skordalia?
Skordalia (Greek spelling σκορδαλιά, pronounced ‘skor-dah-lie-JA’) is a garlic dip; skordo means ‘garlic’. Besides a lot of garlic, the dip in its most common form contains potato, salt, olive oil and vinegar. The resulting spread is a traditional mezze with a pronounced taste and an addictive effect.
In Greece, skordalia is often served as a side dish, with fried fish, seafood or boiled beetroot. It is eaten throughout the country and there are numerous regional varieties, which have three basic ingredients in common, garlic, salt and olive oil. The other ingredients differ from chef to chef. The creamy, mild base of potato can be replaced by soaked bread or nuts and counterbalances the fierceness of raw garlic. Almonds are often used, but pine nuts and walnuts also work. One recipe from the Peloponnese uses chestnuts, while one from Haldikiki uses feta cheese. The acid element to cut through the sharpness of the garlic is sometimes lemon juice, sometimes vinegar. On the Ionian Islands, the dip is called aliada.
How to make skordalia
Preparing an authentic skordalia is like a ritual. Since ancient times, people have taken time over preparing this dish. There is no food processor; everything is done by hand.
Cut the potatoes into cubes, rinse well to wash off the excess starch, then boil. Crush the potatoes into a puree, possibly together with some nuts. Pound garlic and salt into a paste in a mortar, with a spoonful of water or broth, the vinegar or lemon juice and a spoonful of mashed potatoes. Then stir in the rest of the mashed potatoes. Add the olive oil very gradually, still stirring, until the dip reaches just the right taste and consistency.
How to eat
Don’t be alarmed by a good dose of garlic! The Vietnamese dish bun bo took bo, a noodle salad with beef, is full of it! Ramen (noodle soup) is one of the few Japanese dishes that contain garlic. Or try Spanish gambas al ajillo (garlic prawns).