Some Greek and Arabic foods have a lot in common – think hummus perhaps – and in Saudi Arabia, Chef Evangelos Liakouris is running the kitchen at the Riyadh Season pop-up for the Greek restaurant Hellenika, bringing dishes together.
“For us Greeks, food is not just to feed ourselves because we have to eat and get energy; it’s part of the culture – sitting at the table together and discussing the topics of the day, bringing people together, families and friends gathering,” he told Arab News. “You can awaken emotions by being all together and enhance memories, and the connecting link is the food.”
He adjusted his Greek touch to include Arabic flourishes, putting a take on the dish called talagani, which is similar to halloumi, a Cypriot cheese that doesn’t melt when grilled.
“One of my favorite Middle Eastern desserts is knafeh. So what I did is I took the (Greek pastry) kadaifi and (made it into a warm, savory dish). That idea comes from knafeh, so we’ve taken Greek products and used them in a way people in the local market will understand.”