Cretan Paximadi

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Ntakos, or kouloura, kritharokouloura, koukouvagia, is the name of a particular type of paximadi bread. The paximadi bread, made of wheat and barley, can be found all over Greece, but in different versions (depending for example on the form, the amount of barley used, and the ingredients added for flavor): It is made in one way in Western Greece, and in another way on the Kythira island, etc. But the Ntakos version is specific to Creta.

The Paximadi is a double-baked bread, usually and traditionally composed at 90 percent of barley and 10 per cent wheat, that is then dried out in the sun and becomes hard and crispy. It was first made for shepherds or sailors since it has a very long shelf life, so that they could bring it with them and it would never spoil or rot. Each piece of paximadi is three times the nutritional and caloric value of one slice of common bread. It has been preserved in Cretan diet for many years.

Ntako is a round paximadi, and it must not be confused with the dish sometimes also referred to as Ntako as well: it is actually a Cretan salad in which tomatoes and feta of anthotiro cheese is spread upon paximadi. It is usually soaked in water, olive oil or even wine in order to make it softer.

The Ntakos as well as paximadi in general, is a rustic kind of bread that is still produced in many parts of Greece but does not really fit in the new culinary habits, even though it holds a very important place in the gastronomic culture.

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Bread and baked goods