My love affair with Kalitsounia started when Mr K and I visited Crete a few years ago. Kalitsounia (καλιτσούνια) are small pies, either filled with sheep cheese and drizzled with honey for a sweet dessert, or filled with cheese, herbs and/or greens and onion for a savoury snack. These little pies are unique to Crete and the island has become famous for them.
Kalitsounia are traditionally served at Easter time and filled with two cheeses unique to Crete, along with some mint. There are also two popular kalitsounia shapes for Easter, a square and a 'little lantern'. Beyond Easter, kalitsounia are often served at big family gatherings and parties. They can also either be baked or fried.
If you are visiting Crete, kalitsounia can be found in baker's shops and tavernas all year round. In Chania, some of the best Kalitsounia can be found at the Central Market. The Municipal Market of Chania is in the heart of the city and dates back to 1913. The market is full of fresh local produce, cheeses, meats and seafood and specialities unique to Crete such as mountain teas, spices and dried figs, honey and sweets. If you purchase some kalitsounia, olives, fresh tomatoes, bread and a small bottle of locally made rose or red wine - you have the perfect makings for a picnic on one of the many spectacular beaches close to Chania.
Nearby the market, the narrow alleyways are also well worth a look, full of workshops that continue traditional crafts such as cobblery, pottery, wood working and barrel making, chair lacing and embroidery and weaving. A great place to find a beautiful pair of leather sandals.
If you are searching for Kalitsounia of an evening, a really atmospheric taverna in the old town of Chania offering the little pies is the delightful Soksou Mouksou. With a menu of "mezetsidiko" Soksou Mouksou offers not only kalitsounia but a range of delicious meze including dakos, grilled octopus, fried calamari, skordalia, stuffed peppers and tomatoes and a great range of local cheeses. Souksou mouksou has a gorgeous outdoor courtyard that is filled with small tables, twinkling fairy lights and live music. It is hugely atmospheric and well worth a visit. Just be on notice that it also turns into a night club after hours - however dancing the night away is the perfect way to burn off all that eating!
If you are not lucky enough to be in Chania, here is my recipe for making Kalitsounia at home.
Kalitsounia (καλιτσούνια) with cheese and mint
For the dough:
3 & 1/2 cups plain flour
250ml warm water
1/4 cup of olive oil
2 tablespoons of raki or ouzo
For the filling:
400g firm ricotta
250g sheep or goat feta, crumbled
100g myzithra cheese, finely grated
1 egg, beaten
1/2 cup fresh mint, finely chopped
Combine all of the ingredients in a bowl and mix to form a soft dough. Turn onto a lightly floured surface and knead for a few minutes, then wrap in cling film and place in freezer to rest for around an hour.
Step 1. Combine all of the filling ingredients and mix until smooth.
Step 2. Remove the dough from the freezer and lightly flour it.
Step 3. Either use a rolling pin or roll the dough through a pasta machine, first on the widest setting and then a narrower setting (several times) to form a long strip.
Step 4. Place the dough on a lightly floured surface. Cut the strip into small squares. Place 1 tablespoon of the cheese mixture on each square of dough, moisten edges with a little water, fold over and seal well, pressing the edges together with a fork. Place in a single layer on a tray lined with a tea towel.
Step 5. Heat oil in a deep saucepan and deep fry kalitsounia in batches, turning occasionally, until crisp and golden. Serve hot.
Souksou Mouksou12 kallergon str
Old town - Old Harbour
Open, Thursday - Sunday after 18:00