Dakos or ntakos (Greek: ντάκος), also known as koukouvagia or koukouvayia (κουκουβάγια, "owl") or—in eastern Crete—kouloukopsomo (from koulouki + psomi, pup + bread, allegedly the bread given to puppies), is a Cretan meze consisting of a slice of soaked dried bread or barley rusk (paximadi) topped with chopped tomatoes and crumbled feta or mizithra cheese, and flavored with herbs such as dried oregano. Olives and pepper can also be added.
It is delicious and healthy, it is the best representation of the Mediterranean diet, straight from lovely Crete.
And here the so simple preparation of the Cretan Dakos:
4 round Cretan barley rusks about 4 inches in diameter (8-10 cm) or 4 slices toasted and thick whole grain bread
4 medium tomatoes grated
3-4 ounces crumbled feta cheese
1/3 cup of olive oil
Dry wild Cretan oregano
Black dried Cretan olives for decoration
1. Grate the tomatoes and drain all the liquids.
2. Pass the rusk under running water (very quickly) and place on a plate. (Skip this step if you using bread). Cretan rusks are very hard but you do not want to soften them too much, you do not want a soggy dakos. It should still be crunchy but easily breakable.
3. Add about 1 tablespoon of olive oil and let it absorb. (Please note that here in Greece we often add much more olive oil, but this amount works fine).
4. Spoon the tomato on top, covering the whole rusk and then add the crumbled cheese.
5. Drizzle with another teaspoon of olive oil and sprinkle with oregano.
Top with a Cretan olives and serve.
Why is Dakos also called Koukouvagia?
The term “Koukouvagia” has its origins to a kafenio that existed in the post-war years, about 1950, on the outskirts of Rethymnon. Here, the men found everything their heart desired: tobacco, card games and women. In order to keep its customers at forces, the bar owner (it is said his name was Koukouvagias) served round barley rusks with all the above mentioned ingredients. Others claim that there were many owls around the kafenio. The fact is that the name Koukouvagia remains until today for the spherical round Dakos.