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Dakos or Koukouvagia: Cretan Rusk Salad

Dakos Salad

Dakos or ntakos is the name of a Cretan barley rusk.  A salad made with this rusk has the same name and is made with cheese and tomato on top.  The rusk is also called krithrokoulouro or Koukouvagia (owl) in Crete, but to be frank I don’t know why they are so called. Probably because the rusks look like the owl’s eyes 🙂  Ntakos is a lovely mezes or a light meal on its own and very healthy.

Chania panoramiki small2

From all the places I have been in Greece, Crete is my favourite.The Cretan people are wonderful and very hospitable.Wherever you go they will offer you tsikoudia also called raki or what is called tsipouro in other parts of Greece and Zivania in Cyprus.

Chania fountain

It is the traditional Cretan alcoholic drink, which is made from the leftovers of the grapes when making wine.  The pomace is distilled and what is produced is a very strong drink containing 35 – 65% alcohol.  It has a very strong taste and this you will receive as a treat from the locals in every village, city, restaurant, or coffee shop.Even when traveling on the Cretan ships you will be offered tsikoudia. By accepting it is a confirmation of a new friendship and part of the welcoming procedure. A couple of shots are enough to make you stumble so don’t overdo it if you don’t want to get drunk.

Sunset at Aghia Marina

Their food is fantastic. Spicy and aromatic.There isn’t a single herb you can’t find in Crete.When we were traveling to Sfakia, we stopped near the edge of a gorge and I picked some sage.  Travelling around you will see the goats on all hillsides, and maybe that’s the reason the meat is so nice and tasty.  

Dakos with feta

As for their cheeses, most of them are unique and not made in other parts of Greece, staka, malaka, xynomyzithra, myzithra, graviera, kefalograviera the list is endless.

Rethymno lighthouse

No wonder why every neighbourhood in Athens, has its Cretan products’ shop.

There is one just near my house and today I got the barley rusks and myzithra.

Elounda sea front

Most of the herbs I have, I’ve brought them from Crete when I visited during summer. Aghios Nikolaos

One of our favourite things we used to eat in Crete is Dakos. Barley rusks, either big or small ones, wet under the tap just for a few seconds or quickly dipped into a bowl with water, finely cubed or grated tomatoes are added on top and soft fresh myzithra cheese and feta cheese, salt and oregano and topped with extra virgin olive oil on top.


Ntakos or Dakos Salad (traditional Cretan recipe)

Ingredients for 4:

  • 4 small barley rusks
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, on each
  • 2 large ripe tomatoes, cubed
  • salt
  • freshly ground black pepper (optional)
  • 50-100 gr xynomyzithra
  • 50 gr. of crumbled feta cheese
  • 50-100 gr. myzithra
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • A few capers and olives (optional)


  1. Take a piece of dakos and quickly wet it, under a running tap, on both sides with water, enough to make it somewhat softer.
  2. Cut the tomato and season with salt, pepper and oregano.   Αdd a few slices of olives and capers and mix.
  3. Spread the tomato mixture over the dakos and add the crumbled cheese on top.
  4. Finally top with the olive oil and sprinkle some more oregano.

Note: xynomyzithra is produced only in Chania and is something between feta and myzithra.It is a wonderful mezes (hors d’oeuvres) by itself and sometimes in Chania they add xinomyzithra in their Greek salad instead of feta.

You can find many more Greek recipes in my cookbook “More Than A Greek Salad”, and “Mint, Cinnamon & Blossom Water, Flavours of Cyprus, Kopiaste!” both available on all Amazon stores.


Kopiaste and Kali Orexi,

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1 Response

  1. Peter M

    Crete is still on my “to do” list.

    Dakos from Cretan barley rusks are delicious and healthy.

  2. […] Ntakos […]

  3. […] made this savoury cheesecake during the Christmas holidays.  I was inspired by Greek Dakos which is a Cretan appetizer made on a barley rusk with feta or myzithra and tomato on […]

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