Why do we eat Bakaliaros and Skordalia on 25 March and how to cook it!


Greek Independence Day and The Annunciation

25th of March is a Greek National Holiday. A double holiday combining history and religion. It is also called Greek Independence Day because it commemorates the start of the War of Greek Independence in 1821. The same day coincides with the Greek Orthodox Church’s celebration of The Annunciation. Annunciation Day honors the moment when Archangel Gabriel appeared to Mary and told her that she would bear the son of God. Furthermore, ‘Annunciation’ in Greek is called ‘Evangelismos’ and those named Evangelos or Evangelia celebrate their name days on 25th March.


In celebration of Greek Independence Day, towns and villages throughout Greece hold a school flag parade, during which school children march in traditional Greek costume and carry Greek flags. In Athens, the festivities start one day prior on the 24th March with an annual student parade. School students and other youth associations march through central Athens past the Hellenic Parliament in Syntagma, dressed in school uniform and traditional Greek clothes. On the 25th March, a grand military parade takes place mid-morning in the central streets of Athens. The parade includes planes from the Greek air force, civil and military marching bands followed by a procession of military vehicles. The parades are attended by the president of Greece and other dignitaries and usually bring out lots of Athenians waving flags and celebrating. Annunciation Day will be commemorated in other parts of the city with street processions and services in the important Athenian churches such as the central Metropolitan Cathedral and St Dionysios Church in Kolonaki. 

Bakaliaros & Skordalia

A Greek celebration cannot be complete without a national dish. The traditional food on Greek Independence Day and Annunciation Day is Bakaliaros Skordalia. Bakaliaros Skordalia is a delicious batter-fried cod served with a mashed potato garlic dip made with olive oil. 


The sensational platter of Bakaliaros Skordalia has an interesting history with a mixture of trade and religious factors. The 25th of March always falls in the period of Lent. The food during this Greek Orthodox fasting period is limited. No meat, no fish, no dairy products, sometimes not even olive oil are allowed. But there are two exceptions made by the Church: on 25 March and on Palm Sunday people are allowed to consume fish. People living near the sea ate fresh fish on these days but people in mountain areas could not, they had no refrigeration in the past and fresh fish was not available. When salted cod was imported, this problem was solved. Not only for lent but for other days too. Salted cod is a cheap alternative to fresh fish, very nutritious and could be preserved for a long time. The ease of transport, to preserve and the low price made it a very popular food.

How to cook Bakaliaros & Skordalia

Bakaliaros coated with beer batter and then fried and served with skordalia is the most crispy and delicious cod that you will ever. It is a heavy meal but great with a glass of white wine! 

The secret is that the dried and salted fish is soaked for more than 24 hours and then crispy fried in a layer of dough. Why fried? This is actually the only way in which the fish can be prepared tasty. The basic secret for the batter is ice cold water and/or beer which prevents the fried fish from absorbing to much oil. Corn flour (starch) is used to make the crispy and light crust. 

The fish is served with Skordalia, a puree of garlic and mashed potatoes and/or soaked bread.

Garlic mash and fried cod are a match made in heaven!

Bakaliaros Skordalia (Cod & Garlic Dip)

Recipe type: Fish/Vegetarian

Serves: 4-6


2 lb. cod*

2 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for dredging

1 cup water

1 Tablespoon baking powder

2 tsp salt

1 tsp pepper salt

1 tsp. paprika

12 oz beer of choice

canola oil, for frying


Pat the cod dry with a paper towel and cut into bite sized pieces. Dredge each piece of fish in flour and a little salt, shaking off any extra flour and set aside.

In a mixing bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, salt, pepper, and paprika. Pour in water and beer and whisk until the batter is smooth with no lumps. Add extra water if needed.

Heat oil in deep frying pan (about 350 degrees F) and dip the cod pieces into the batter, and then carefully immerse into the hot oil.

When one side is crispy and golden brown, flip and cook on the other side until cooked. Place the pieces of cod on a paper towel to drain. Repeat the process until all the fish is cooked.

Serve warm with a side of skordalia and pita bread and enjoy!


If using salted cod: Cut the cod into bite sized pieced, place in a bowl and cover with water and place in fridge. Drain and change water 3-4 times a day for at least 24 hours.

If you’d like, you can use fresh cod.

Skordalia (Garlic Dip)

Author: Eleni Saltas

Recipe type: DipCuisine: Greek

Serves: 4-6


2 large russet potatoes,

5 garlic cloves, or more

Salt and white pepper, to taste

½ cup extra virgin oil, plus more for drizzling

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar (or fresh lemon juice)

2 tablespoons club soda


Peel and cut the potatoes into cubes. Place in a large pot of water. Bring to a boil and cook until the potatoes are fork tender (about 20 minutes).

Drain and cool the potatoes for 5 minutes to allow the steam to evaporate. NOTE: It is important to work with the potatoes while they’re hot.

Place the potatoes in a food processor and blend until smooth. Blend in the garlic, and salt and pepper. Gradually add the olive oil until smooth and creamy. Repeat with the vinegar.

Slowly add in club soda for a smooth texture. Add more olive oil, vinegar, and seasoning to taste.

Drizzle with olive oil on top. Serve and enjoy!


The longer the skordalia sits, the more it will thicken. If not served right away, stir in some club soda or olive oil prior to serving to smooth it out and bring back the creaminess texture.

(Sources: foodaroundathens.com, elenisaltas.com)