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What comes after pomegranate molasses?

The thick syrup has grown into a staple in restaurants and retail, but Greek ingredient supplier Odysea hopes to take consumers on a similar journey with other regional products.

7 December 2018
ambientcondimentsMediterraneanmiddle easternSainsbury'svegetables

Over the last few years, pomegranate molasses have become a familiar constituent of recipes, both in professional establishments and popular cookbooks. Thanks to chefs like Yotam Ottolenghi and the increasing uptake of Middle Eastern cuisine, bottles of the stuff can be purchased from Waitrose and Morrisons to add tartness and richness to a dish.

But there are plenty of other products hailing from the same region, and Odysea is one of the companies bringing them to British shoppers.

Started 27 years ago as a supplier of Greek ingredients, the brand has since expanded to include products from further afield, stretching west to encompass balsamic vinegars from Modena and east to take in flavours from the Asian Mediterranean.

Recently, it launched nine brand-new SKUs into Sainsbury’s, building on existing lines like stuffed vine leaves and baked gigantes beans, as well as numerous varieties of olive oil.

“Greek and eastern Mediterranean food is ideally suited to vegetarian, vegan and flexitarian eating,” a spokesperson for Odysea tells Food Spark. “It offers a wide variety of ingredients for those following this healthy way of eating, enabling them to create delicious and more varied meals.”

So what’s on the shelves?

Molasses and meze 

As a sequel to the success of its pomegranate syrup, Odysea has introduced date molasses to Sainsbury’s.

“We’d noticed more and more recipes using date molasses, especially those by Middle Eastern celebrity chefs,” remarks Odysea. “Date Molasses also taps into the health trend for natural sweeteners, and both our pomegranate and date molasses contain nothing but concentrated fruit, making them ideal to serve on top of pancakes, yoghurts, blitzing into smoothies and for dressings or marinades.”

Also joining the stable are beldi preserved lemons, another chef favourite that’s caught the eye of home cooks. Pickled in water and salt, they are commonly used in Moroccan cuisine (‘beldi’ is Moroccan for ‘traditional’), particularly tagines and stews, though they can be incorporated into roasts, salads and dressing as well. The citrus fruits are described as “tiny flavour bombs” by Odysea, which notes they fit customer desires to be more adventurous when cooking and to discover more exciting ingredients.

Food Spark has previously talked about the lack of options when it comes to dips in the supermarkets, a defect Sainsbury’s is rectifying with the stocking of Odysea’s aubergine meze, a traditional Greek recipe for melitzanosalata made of aubergines, extra virgin olive, garlic and herbs.

“This dip has a wonderful smoky aroma thanks to the way the aubergines are flame roasted with their skin on,” notes Odysea. “The dip has already proven to be very popular in Sainsbury’s and, being an ambient product, is a great store cupboard stand-by. Dips feature heavily in traditional meze (antipasti-style eating), and this is just one from our extensive range of ambient dips.”

Odysea also sells sun-dried tomato, roasted red pepper and feta, and sweet red pepper mezes via its website.

Next, the company is planning to jump on the kefir bandwagon with a version made from Greek goat’s milk, as well as goat’s milk yoghurt and sheep’s milk yoghurt with a ‘cream top’ – i.e. non-homogenized.

Given the unassailable rise of halloumi – to the extent that the supply may soon dry up – it’s no surprise that Odysea has plans for grilling cheeses and baking fetas in the pipeline, while it also hopes to break into the frozen market with filo pastry pies and vegetable stews.

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