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Greek flavours

JYOTI N. PAREKH

BIPIN MISTRY

THE best flavours of the Mediterranean come alive in the food of Greece. Basically Greek food is simple and not unduly rich, and care is taken in its preparation. There are many recipes using tomatoes, egg plants, zucchini onion and potatoes along with fresh herbs and olive oil. The Greeks are generally fond of sweets and serve them at almost every meal. Here are a few recipes to capture the flavour.

Tomato and brown lentil soup (Whole masoor) (Six servings)

  • Ingredients:

    Olive oil 2 tbsps
    Chopped onions1/2 cup
    Garlic 1 tsp
    Tomato paste1/2 cup
    Dried chillies 2
    Bay leaves 2
    Brown lentils 3/4 cup
    Salt and black pepper powder to taste
    A fresh basil leaves

  • Method:

    Soak the lentils for an hour. Heat the olive oil in a cooker pan and sauté onion and garlic on medium heat until soft. Add red chillies and bay leaves. Saute for a minute. Add the soaked lentils and sauté until hot. Add two cups of hot water and salt to taste. Pressure cook the lentils.

    Remove the red chillies and bay leaves from the lentils. Add the tomato paste and the pepper powder. Mix well and add more water if necessary. Boil for 10 minutes for the flavours to mix.

    Serve soup with fresh basil in each bowl.

    * * *

    Tomato cous cous cups (Makes six pieces)

  • Ingredients:

    Large tomatoes 6
    Olive oil 3 tbsps
    Chopped onions1/2 cup
    Cous cous (It is a tiny pasta made
    of semolina) 1 cup
    Warm water 1 cup
    Tomato paste 1/4 cup
    Chopped green pickled olives 1/4 cup
    Grated cheddar cheese 1/4 cup
    Salt and black pepper powder to taste
    Chopped coriander leaves
    or parsley 1/4 cup
    Water1/2 cup
    Olive oil for glazing 1 tbsp

  • Method:

    Cut the tops of tomatoes with a sharp knife and set aside. Scoop out pulp from inside and chop. Keep the tomato cups upside down to drain them out.

    Heat the olive oil and sauté onions until light pink. Add the cous cous and mix. Add the chopped tomatoes, warm water and tomato paste. Add the salt to taste and mix evenly. Cover and cook on medium heat until water gets absorbed. Open the lid and turn off heat. Mix pieces of olive, pepper, cheese and coriander to prepare the filling. Divide the filling into six portions and fill in tomatoes. Arrange tomatoes in a deep greased baking dish. Cover each one with its top. Put1/2 cup water in the baking dish. Crease tomatoes with olive oil on outer side and top. Cover dish with aluminium foil. Bake at 200{+o}C for 30 minutes. Open and bake for 10 minutes more. Serve hot.

    * * *

    Greek rolls (Makes eight rolls)

  • Ingredients:

    Flour 2 cups
    Fresh yeast 1˝ tsps
    Salt1/2 tsp
    Sugar1/2 tsp
    Butter1/2 tbsp
    Little ghee for greasing
    For the filling:
    Chopped coriander leaves1/2 cup
    Grated coconut 1/4 cup
    Salt to taste
    Sugar 1/4 tsp
    Chilli ginger paste1/2 tsp

  • Method:

    Sieve the flour and mix in the yeast. Heat the salt sugar in 1/4 cup of lukewarm water. Add to the flour. Make a soft dough. Knead with butter, put in a greased large vessel. Cover with a wet cloth. Leave aside till double in volume.

    Mix all the ingredients of filling and divide into eight parts.

    Knead the dough again for five minutes. Divide into eight balls. Flatten each ball, put one part of filling in the centre and cover it to make an oval ball. Arrange all stuffed rolls in a greased baking tray. Cover with an oiled plastic sheet. Keep for 25 to 30 minutes to rise again.

    Preheat oven to 250{+o}C. Bake rolls until brown on top and base.

    Remove from heat and cool in a wire rack. Brush with a little ghee on top.

    * * *

    Apple baskets (Makes 10 pieces)

  • Ingredients:

    For the baskets:

    Grated cheese 1/4 cup
    Butter 3 tbsps
    Powder sugar 3 tbsps
    Flour 1 cup
    For the apple filling:
    Apple, chopped into tiny pieces 1 cup
    Fresh bread crumbs 1/4 cup
    Chopped walnuts 1/4 cup
    Seeded black currants or raisins 2 tbsps
    Powder sugar1/2 cup
    Nutmeg powder 1/4 tsp
    Lemon juice 1 tsp
    Melted butter 1 tbsp

  • Method:

    For the baskets:

    Blend together the butter, cheese and sugar. Beat till the mixture is light and fluffy. Mix in flour and make a soft dough. Take 10 patty pans. Divide dough into 10 parts and press on sides of each pan. Fill with apple mixture and bake and 200{+o}C for 35 to 45 minutes until apples are cooked and pastry is light pink and leaves the side of the pans. Cool the baskets and remove from the pans to serve.

    For the apple filling: Mix all the ingredients listed and divide equally to fill the prepared baskets.

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