Melomakarona: a dish that is so popular in one part of the world is completely unknown to another! This old-school Christmas treat called Melomakarona is very popular in Greece and almost every traditional Greek household makes it. The word Melomakarona, having its etymological roots in ancient Greece, is a conjunction of two words: “Meli” and “Makaronia.” The word “Meli” means honey. Melomakarona is honey-laced. Even the pastry has honey in its dough. In ancient Greek civilisation, honey was always considered to be a symbol of fruitfulness and welfare.
The medieval word “Makaronia” is actually derived from an ancient Greek word “Makaria”. The modern-day “macaroni” comes from the word “Makaria,” in fact. But did you know that these popular Greek Christmas cookies were once offered to people who attended a funeral? So, over the years, the Makaria which was once offered in funerals, became Melomakarona. These are delicious Greek cookies, loaded with honey and walnuts and is very addictive! The spices and the orange, along with Cognac, do the rest of the magic.
By the way, the Latins were the first ones who used the word Makaronia and spelled it as Maccarone. The Italians started using the word “Maccarone” and eventually called it “Macaroni,” which is the modern-day pasta. It’s funny because Melomakarona is not a pasta and is no longer offered in funerals. It is a dish that screams celebration and as told earlier, it is a Christmas delicacy in Greece. Sitting here in India, while researching on Melomakarona’s backstory, I wished to taste this ancient Greek dish. Well, so here I am, baking some honey-kissed Melomakarona right in my Mumbai kitchen. It is something in between a cake and a cookie and is slightly fluffy. The recipe in easy, and anyone who can knead a dough well, can make it. Oh yes, Melomakarona is a vegetarian dish and is dairy-free too! No butter and eggs are there in the Greek Melomakarona recipe, although it involves quite a lot of oil. A big Thank You for appreciating the first blogpost in this series called Christmas Recipes Around the World. Recently, I posted about St. Lucia’s Saffron Buns, a true Swedish pre-Christmas delight, traditionally eaten on December 13th in Sweden. Do check out this recipe, too!
Before you jump on to this unique Christmas recipe of the Greek Melomakarona, please show some love for this blog by helping in spreading the word. Do share this recipe in your circles. Please subscribe to my food blog Cosmopolitan Currymania and like me on Instagram and Twitter (handle: @purabinaha).
Christmas Recipes Around the World | Melomakarona or Greek Honey Cookies
- Fine semolina: 150 g
- All-purpose flour: 500 g
- Baking powder: 1/2 tsp
- Juice of two oranges
- Cognac or Brandy: 3 tbsp
- Sugar: 90 g
- Cinnamon powder: 1 tbsp
- Ground nutmeg: 1/3 tsp
- Ground cloves: 1/3 tsp
- Vanilla extract: 1 tsp
- Baking soda: 1/2 tbsp
- Water: 45 g
- Olive oil: 1/2 cup
- Honey: 50 g
- Orange zest: 2 tsp
- Crushed walnuts: handful
- Ingredients for the syrup:
- Water: 3 cups
- Sugar: 2 cups
- Honey: 3/4 cup
- Freshly squeezed lemon juice: 2 tbsp
- Whole cinnamon sticks one-inch: 2
- Cloves: 12
- One orange: quartered
- Make the syrup first. Warm water and sugar together, until it comes to a boil. Switch off the gas add add the rest of the ingredients for the syrup. Make sure that the honey is dissolved properly. Keep the syrup aside.
- Using hands, mix the flour, semolina, sugar and oil. Add the Cognac (or Brandy).
- Take the orange juice in a glass tumbler and whisk-in the Baking Soda. Add the frothy orange juice to the dough mixture and knead until everything comes together to form a smooth, oily dough. Do not over-knead, as the Melomakarona will get stiff on doing so.
- Line a Baking sheet with baking paper. With the help of an ice-cream scoop, scoop out balls of equal size. Roll each dough ball into a smooth oval, resembling the shape of an egg.
- Using the backside of a fork, press lightly on each oval-shaped Melomakarona to make a criss-cross effect on the top. Bake at 200C for a minimum of 25 min, or until golden.
- After the Melomakaronas come out of the oven, dip each of them in the cold syrup for a few seconds. Sprinkle with crushed walnuts on the top before serving.
On another note, I am proud to be a partner of the prestigious India Hospitality + Food and Beverage Expo as one of the five food bloggers all over India. This mega international exhibition and conference is now India’s second biggest industry event.
Date: 18th to 20th December, 2018
Venue: Bombay Exhibition Centre (NESCO), Goregaon
Timings: 11 am to 7 pm
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