Koulouri / Greek Politiko Simiti

Koulouri is a sesame crusted bread ring from Greece. It is a street food sold by the vendors in Athens. Apparently it is a common snack for both Greeks and Turks and is believed to have been brought to Greece by Greek refugees from Asia Minor and Constantinople(Istanbul). In Turkey they go by the name of Simit or Susam kebabi meaning Sesame kebab. Though a derivative of the Turk Simit, the Politiko Simiti is quite distict from it. It is braided and given a generous coating of petimezi(Greek grape must syrup or grape molasses) before being rolled in sesame seeds and baked. The braiding lends a bagel-type texture to the Koulouri and the grape molasses gives it a mild sweetness, thereby making it a popular breakfast bread or teatime snack for the Greeks. 

Last month Priya Suresh of Priya's Versatile Recipes challenged the members of Gayathri's Baking Eggless Group to bake an eggless version of these braided bread rings. The original recipe uses only one large egg, which wasn't much of a challenge to deal with. I simply replaced it with ¼ cup Greek yogurt. The real challenge however was to make the grape must syrup. Most recipes called for petimezi called for grape juice and wood ash. Now we do not have a fireplace or barbeque grill and I did not know where to get the wood ash from.. so after some considerations I decided to simply simmer the grape juice and make a syrup. I am not sure if the thickened grape syrup tasted anything like petimezi, but it was really good... Having said that I must add that though the grape syrup was great by itself, one could barely taste it in the bun. So unless you are in the mood for it, do not sweat it out. Simply substitute the syrup with an equal measure of honey and you are good to go.... 

But... in case you want to make the grape syrup my way here is how you can do it. For 2 cups of grape syrup, blend  5 cups of red grapes, strain the juice into a large saucepan. Over medium heat, bring the juice to a boil, skim off the foam that rises on top and simmer over medium low heat for the next 1½ to 2 hours, until the juice thickens and acquires the consistency of honey. This syrup can be used as a dipping syrup for the bread or served as a sauce with savory snacks. It also tastes good when served over Greek Yogurt or Frozen yogurt. 

Now the recipe for eggless Koulouri... It tastes best when hot and fresh.

Koulouri / Greek Politiko Simiti

Recipe adapted from My Little Expat Kitchen
Prep time: 1½ hours                                                                               Cook time: 20-25 minutes
Total time: 2 ½ hours                                                                              Yield: 6


For the dough
  • 120 ml water
  • 50 ml + ⅛ cup whole milk
  • ¼ cup Greek yogurt
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 ¼ cup all purpose flour
  • 1 ¼ cup whole wheat flour
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp ginger powder
  • 1¾ tsp instant yeast
For the glaze
  • 3/4 cup sesame seeds
  • 1/3 cup grape must syrup(prepared as mentioned above)
Cooking Directions
  1. Heat the water and milk together till the mixture is lukewarm.
  2. Put the water-milk mixture along with all the ingredients for the dough in the pan of the bread machine in the order recommended by the manufacturer. Program the machine for dough cycle. After 10-12 minutes, feel the dough with your hand. The dough should be smooth and elastic, it should not be sticky. Adjust the water and flour levels accordingly and let the dough cycle complete.
  3. While the machine is running, toast the sesame seeds. Put the sesame seeds In a large frying pan and stirring constantly, toast the seeds over medium heat until they become golden brown in color and release their aroma. Keep the toasted seeds aside till ready to use.
  4. When the machine cycle completes, turn the dough into a lightly floured surface, divide it into 6 equal portions and shape the portions into balls.
  5. Preheat the oven to 400 °F and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
  6. Take each ball of dough and roll it into a 50-55cm long rope. Bring the two ends of the rope together and braid the two strands , then form a ring and press the two edges together.
  7. Once all the dough balls have been shaped into braided rings, working one at a time, dip the rings in the grape syrup, coat them well with the syrup then immediately dip them in the toasted sesame seeds, coating each one of them thickly with the seeds.
  8. Place the coated rings on the prepared baking sheets and bake in the preheated oven for 20-25 minutes, until they turn golden brown.
  9. Cool the baked simitis over cooling racks and serve them warm or at room temperature.
These buns are being yeastspotted.

I shall be sharing this at the following parties.


  1. wow wow that a fantastic bread :) looks so very pretty !! and so perfectly done dear !!

  2. I love the homemade process for making your own grape syrup - it sounds delicious! And these look very tasty as a wonderful breakfast...

  3. These are such amazing bread!!
    I love working with yeast and this is definitely a unique recipe :)

  4. I didn't know that Greek's had a bagel. Love all the sesame seeds.

    1. One of my husband's colleague made the same remark . I guess it is not so well-known outside Greece.

  5. This comment has been removed by the author.

  6. We decided to feature you on Tasty Tuesday over at Craft Dictator! Come check it out and link up with us again! http://craftdictator.com/2014/02/18/tasty-tuesday-49/

  7. Hello, so happy to have discovered your blog link at Craft Dictator! Following you now and looking forward to trying some of your recipes! Your photors are gorgeous! :)


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Best, Tanusree

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