Photo by Co-Lab Pantry
How to Make A Delicious Homemade Souvlaki
By Co-lab Pantry
Let’s talk Souvlaki, shall we!?
Simple but savoury and flavourful is how gastronomes would describe the popular Greek dish, Souvlaki. A classic Mediterranean cuisine consisting of pieces of meat and sometimes vegetables that are grilled and served on a stick, Souvlaki derived its name from the mediaeval Greek word “souvla” meaning skewer (think of it as Greek barbecue). Pork is the commonly used meat in its homeland but chicken, beef, and lamb are also used in Souvlaki variations in other places. You can eat Souvlaki straight off the stick after grilling (drool) or wrap the grilled meat in a warm pita and pair it with chips or salad. Also, Souvlaki isn’t complete without the tzatziki dip, a Greek cucumber yoghurt sauce. It sounds easy to make, right? You can concoct one for yourself or for the whole family at home (or, if you’re short on time, try this one from Elyros)! But before we give you some tips on how you can make Souvlaki the best way at home, let’s go on a quick history lesson on the origins of Souvlaki.
Where did Souvlaki originate?
Souvlaki goes all the way back to 2000 BC in the island of Santorini where “souvlaki-like” dishes were already popular. Cooking on the spit or skewers were practised by the Greeks back then by using stone tools and trays similar to how spit-roasting is done in the present day. What’s more interesting is that Greek literature has referenced “roasted meats on spits” – by Homer in the Iliad, as well as in the works of Aristotle, Aristophanes and other famous ancient Greek writers (details they won’t tell you in Literature class!) Souvlaki didn’t cross over in other parts of the world until after World War I. Its popularity as a street and fast food grew in the 1960s when vendors in Central Greece started selling this delicacy.
Souvlaki is prepared and served in different ways in various parts of the Mediterranean region. However, using pork meat is the authentic way of making a traditional Souvlaki. Souvlaki Pita is a common street food in Greece. The grilled meat is wrapped in a lightly grilled pita garnished with tomatoes, onions, fried potatoes and tzatziki sauce on the side (that’s living), or they can be added inside the wrap. Kalamaki, on the other hand, is just the colloquial name of Souvlaki in Athens. Kalamaki, which means small reed, is also served on a skewer or wrapped in pita and served with lemon, tomatoes and onions.
Is Souvlaki similar to Gyro?
Ah, the question we all want to know. While both are mouthwatering Greek delicacies, many confuse Gyro with Souvlaki once the meat is served in a pita wrap. Gyro refers to how the stacked skewered meat is cooked in a vertical rotisserie, similar to doner kebab. The meat is sliced thinly and wrapped in pita with tomatoes, onions, herbs, fried potatoes and sauces. Souvlaki, on the other hand, has cubed pieces of meat pierced on a stick. Both Souvlaki and Gyro are served with the delicious tzatziki sauce.
Make homemade Souvlaki in 5 easy steps:
- Decide which kind of meat you’re going to use for your Souvlaki. For pork, use tenderloin or neck. For chicken, you can use boneless, skinless thighs. For lamb, use the leg or shoulder part. For beef, opt for fillet mignon.
- Marinate the meat with lemon juice, oregano, olive oil, fresh bay leaves, rosemary, thyme, salt and red wine vinegar. Leave it overnight for a more flavourful taste.
- After the meat has been marinated, use sticks to thread the pieces and add vegetables in between.
- Cook the meat skewers on a grill.
- Prepare the warm pita, garnish or vegetable fillings and tzatziki sauce. Once the Souvlaki is grilled, it will be ready to serve!
Co-Lab Pantry’s DIY Souvlaki Kits
Sometimes we have instant food cravings but don’t have the time to shop for the ingredients or even go through the whole recipe (even if it’s just 5 easy steps - no judgement). If you’re suddenly craving for Souvlaki after reading this article, Co-Lab Pantry has delicious home cooked-style Souvlaki choices (Souvlaki pita or skewers) that they can deliver straight to your doorstep. They’re also very easy to make.
Beloved Greek restaurant Elyros offers DIY Souvlaki Kits. You can choose between chicken or lamb. It comes with their popular house made pita, potatoes, latholemono sauce, pickled onions, cabbage and parsley.
If you prefer Souvlaki in skewers, premier meat shop Peter Bouchier offers lamb Souvlaki that’s available in trays of 6 skewers. The lean, tender leg meat is prepared Greek-style with their house made Greek marinade. The meat is sourced from leading lamb producers in Australia.
Co-Lab Pantry is an Australian online food and beverage retailer based in Melbourne. With over 150 of the best local restaurants, cafes and grocers as partners, we deliver ready-made meals, cocktails, pantry goods and produce to people’s homes across the nation.