Koulouri, a round sesame-topped bread, is a nutritious, energy-rich snack popular in Greece, especially Thessaloniki, with various types and flavors.

close-up of Greek ‘Koulouri’

Koulouri is special round-shaped bread topped with sesame seeds. It is one of the healthiest sources of carbohydrates, proteins, and other nutrients and is full of energy. It is an economic and easy-to-eat product that is sold by outdoor vendors as well as in bakeries. The koulouri sellers station themselves in places with a lot of foot traffic, usually at central points in the city, and transport their products in large baskets or on wooden trays balanced on their heads. It’s a popular food, particularly delicious when it is fresh and usually consumed in the morning.

Kiosk with Greek ‘Koulouri’, round-shaped breads topped with sesame seeds on the street and a couple watching them

There are different types of koulouri, depending on the size and quality of the bread. Typically, there are the simple ones small in diameter, the bigger koulouri which are thicker and larger in diameter, and the double koulouri, which consists of two round pieces twisted together. Koulouri comes roasted, crispy, or soft.

Different varieties of them include multi-seed, stuffed, plain without sesame seeds or with tahini (sesame pulp), whole grain, and so on. The classic koulouri comes with sesame seeds is called the Thessaloniki koulouri, the one that Greek refugees from Minor Asia began to prepare and has remained in our hearts as the traditional Greek product sold by vendors, who at dawn start circulating with trays of koulouri on their heads.

Although it does not have a registered designation of origin, this sesame bread roll is identified with the city of Thessaloniki, but its history dates back to Byzantine times in what was then known as Constantinople and in Thessaloniki. In Constantinople, the vendors branded their merchandise koulouri of Thessaloniki, a name later was adopted by koulouri-sellers in Athens.

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