Koulourakia, also known as Kulu’raca, are traditional Greek hand-shaped crisp cookies or pastries that are golden brown in color. Generally, in Greece, small cookies as these are all known as "Koulourakia". These cookies or pastries in particular are flavored with vanilla and are butter based with ring shapes. The shape earns the pastry its name which means ring-shaped loaf or lifebelt. Sesame seeds are sprinkled on the pastries before they are baked. They are often braided into circles, twisted into figure eight, into hairpin twists, like wreaths, horseshoes and even Greek letters. They are usually eaten with coffee or tea and also made into snacks for kids. They are served as dessert as well.
Origin of Koulourakia Recipe
The origin of these pastries is based in Greece, where they have been made during Easter and eaten after the Holy Saturday for many years now. This has become a part of the Greek traditions over the years. After fasting during the holy week, the locals of Greece enjoy many goodies, which include the kulu’raca that are eaten along with Tsoureki and Magertsa.
Preparation of the Kulu’raca Pastries
Yeast leavened dough is used for making Koulourakia. Butter is used as the shortening agent and once the dough is hand-shaped into ring-shaped pastries they are glazed on top with egg. The dough is flavored with vanilla essence. The pastries are usually sprinkled with sesame seeds and a clove is placed in the middle of the pastries, to add flavor. In case, sesame seeds are not used before baking the cookies, they can be rolled in powdered sugar while they are still warm, post baking. The cookies get their glaze after being brushed with egg yolk and water mixture. Koulourakias are flavored with cinnamon powder, which is mixed in the dough before it is rolled out.
Kulu’raca Pastry Trivia
- All dishes that end with ‘aki’ in Greek usually denote small. Dishes such as Souvlaki, bouzoukaki, etc., fall into this category.
- Some people, like the Minoans made the Koulourakia shaped like snakes and worshipped them as they believed that snakes have healing powers.