Ancient Greek sesame and poppy sweets

This is surprisingly good. If you like the modern sesame snap bars, or sesame in general, you’ll like this. “Gastris” may not the most attractive title for a dish, but I suppose they didn’t have social-media managers back then. It is taken from Athenaeus’ Deipnosophists, and is a dish from Crete. This can be made in advance and in any volume you like. I made a large square and then cut it up into bite-size pieces. You can see the step by step process on the Historical Italian Cooking channel.


  • 120gm raw sesame seeds
  • 40gm poppy seeds
  • 20gm almond and or hazel nuts
  • Honey (about 1/3 of a cup or enough to make the mixture into a sticky but not runny mass)
  • 4 black peppercorns


Dry roast the almonds and hazel nuts.

Dry roast the poppy seeds.

Pound the pepper, almonds, hazel nuts and poppy seeds finely.

Pound the sesame seeds separately.

Bring the honey to the boil and let it simmer. Remove from the heat.

While the honey is still warm, use a spoon full and mix into the pounded pepper, almonds, hazel nuts and poppy seeds. Form the paste into a ball.

Add a spoonful of warm honey to the sesame seeds. Form the paste into two balls.

Form all of the balls into squares and press them together, with the black square in the centre.