The smell of Souvlaki is inviting at every corner of my street. Well, I am located in the very centre of Athens and that’s quite expectable. As I already wrote in one of my previous articles, if you are on Keto, or even Carnivore diet, you’ll be safe in Greece. Even if you have to eat out all the time the offer of street food will not make you bankrupt. The quality of meat and preparation methods will most probably be healthier than in most of the countries of the western world. Our tourism industry fails to advertise this enough!
After your Greek vacation, you want a souvlaki at home?
Who doesn’t?! It’s juicy, tasty, easy to consume and gives the best that meat can offer. But, the trick, as with any other grilled meat, is in the marinade. Of course, you will not be able to make Gyros at home, at least not without a whole machinery! On the other hand, you’ll be able to make a Greek Kalamaki, which, in essence, is grilled meat on skewers or wooden sticks.
A funny anecdote with Kalamaki
Here in Greece, we like to make fun of everything. Wait, didn’t we invent comedy some thousands of years before? Actually, if you ever meet a Greek, they will most probably try to start a conversation with a joke. Some are successful in being charming while making fun, some are not! But in all cases, they will try! We especially enjoy making fun of each other based on our region of origin. Once I was in Thessaloniki and wanted to eat Kalamaki. I ordered some sticks and I was served with plastic straws in bread. Thad did not go very well, you might assume! But now that I think of it, I cannot stop laughing.
In Thessaloniki, they take things way too literally! Yes, Kalamaki is a word for straw, but in Athens, we use this expression for meat on skewer too! So before you travel, make sure you know how they call it in that region or you might end up with plastic straws as I did.
Etymology of Souvlaki
The word “souvla” in Greek means a skewer. If you make a diminutive, reduce it to a size you can easily hold in your hand, you’ll end up with a “souvlaki”. Kalamaki, on the other hand, literally means a straw, the dry stalk of cereal plants. Well, you know those things we will never eat again!
The power of souvlaki marinade
As with everything, in Greece, we spice the things up. And we never go with one or two, we mix all the known and unknown spices and this is the secret of our grilled meat. It simply tastes better than anywhere else. I decided to help you in your quest to make a perfect Kalamaki Souvlaki at home. But you’ll really need some patience! The meat will be perfect only if you marinate it 24 hours prior to grilling. So, do it like a Greek would – take it easy and slow! Enjoy life, sun and a good portion of meat!
Which meat to use?
As you might already know, lamb is the best meat available to humans in the contemporary world. I am talking from a typical urban point of view – you can simply go to the butcher shop and buy lamb. The benefits and advantages over other kinds of meat are nicely covered in this article by Dr Axe.
Alternatively, you can use veal, beef, pork or even mutton. All these kinds are available in most of the Greek souvlaki stores around the country so you can try them before deciding which meat is your “cup of tea!”
Greek Souvlaki Kalamaki
- 300 g lamb cut into cubes
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1/4 medium white onion
- 1 whole lemon small (zest and juice)
- 1 tsp black pepper
- 1 tsp sea salt
- 1 tbsp oregano
- 1 tsp dried thyme
- 70 ml olive oil extra virgin
- 1 tbsp goat butter
- 1 tsp dried chopped paprika mild or hot according to your preferences
- Cut the meat into 3x3 cm cubes and place it in a deep plate
- Place all the spices with lemon juice, garlic and onion in a food processor. Add olive oil and pulse it until smooth. Pour over the meat, mix well with your hands
- Cover the plate with the meat and place it in the refrigerator. Marinate it for 24 hours and mix occasionally
- After the meat has been marinated, thread the pieces on the skewers. (You can use wooden or metallic skewers. If you opt for wooden, damp them with water to prevent burning on the grill)
- Grill the Souvlaki sticks using a classic grill or a grilling pan. When they are nicely roasted from all sides, put some goat butter on them before serving
Who’s the best friend to souvlaki?
Tzatziki sauce – of course. You can find a quick and easy recipe for this sauce here. If you are a Carnivore, you can simply exclude the cucumber and enjoy your meat with probably the best sauce in the galaxy! Keep on enjoying every aspect of your healthy and tasty lifestyle!