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How to Make Tsourekia

Updated: Apr 27, 2021

Last year we made our first Nutella Tsourekia, mainly because of the kids. This year we only made a small batch of traditional non-Nutella Tsourekia as it's just the two of us together, while the rest of the family are self isolating in their own homes.

Our dear friend Arieta generously shared her favourite Tsourekia recipe with us. Arieta's loaves looked amazing and because we are in isolation, well, we had to make them for ourselves!

You can't make traditional Tsourekia without two key ingredients:

Masticha (Greek: Μαστἰχα)

Masticha is found only in Chios and even then it is only able to grow in the southern part of the island! Any attempt to grow the trees beyond this area has totally failed.

Masticha (or mastic) is the natural resin that oozes from the trunk and branches of the mastic tree, merging like tear drops. This sticky, thick fluid hardens into crystals of varying shapes and sizes.

Since antiquity, masticha has been known for its medicinal and therapeutic values and as an exotic spice (even though technically it is not a spice, but a resin).

So what does masticha taste like? Well, that is difficult to explain. Masticha has a very unique taste and can be bitter if used in large quantities. The flavour for me is quite familiar as I've grown up with it so the best way I can describe the aroma and flavour is something sweet, floral (almost like a light rosewater)...almost herby with a hint of pine? I don't know if that's accurate, but when I smell it, I know that it's masticha!

Mahlepi (Greek: Μαχλἐπι)

Mahlepi, also known as Mahlab, is a spice made from Persian cherry kernels that are ground into a fine powder.

If you taste ground mahlepi, it tastes a bit like cherries, a bit like roses, and a bit like almonds. There's a hint of vanilla and something quite floral. Its aftertaste, though, is quite bitter, but when cooked, everything changes! The taste of mahlepi transforms into a fruity and rich, but subtle taste.

Both Masticha & Mahlepi can be found at any good Mediterranean grocer.

The video below is a quickish demonstration of what goes on in our test kitchen when our wonderful family & friends share one of their recipes with us. We go through the method, but if you would like the recipe, then scroll to the bottom for more details.

Making Tsourekia is quite a lengthy process so we did the best that we could to condense the video.

Music: Royalty Free Music from Bensound

How to plait/braid Tsourekia

Tsourekia with 3 Strands

Tsourekia with 4 Strands

This configuration is a bit different to the way we do it in the video and we will try this method next time that we bake Tsourekia!

Be sure to check back on our social media pages to see our iso-Easter table!

We may not be able to gather with our family & friends, but it doesn't mean that we can't observer and celebrate our traditions. This too will pass and we can't wait for the day that we can give everybody the biggest hugs.

Stay safe! Be well!

Happy baking! ✝️Kali anastasi! Καλή Ανάσταση!✝️

Let's Eat! - A Collection of Family Recipes is creating a cookbook which will be released in 2021.

In the meantime we will be posting dishes to raise awareness, practice recipes and of course to tempt your appetite 😉

Would you like this recipe?

Simply go to our online store

Thank you so much.

Let's Eat! Fundraising Team

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