Having just returned from a holiday to Cyprus, it seems an appropriate time to post a Greek recipe. I was pleasantly surprised by how good the food was when eating out in the Cypriot tavernas because although I love my Yiayia and Bapou’s home cooking I wasn’t sure this was a good representation of Greek food in general- especially as a vegetarian. While, of course, nothing could compare to the deliciousness of their food (and I am not just saying this because otherwise I might get hit – Yiayia is small but ferocious) the choice and quality of veggie food on this tiny Mediterranean island is extremely impressive.
As a cuisine, Greek Cypriot food has a vast amount of meat-free dishes. This is in part because in times of the past meat was expensive and reserved mostly for occasional, special meals but also because the Greek Orthodox religion observes periods of fasting where no meat or fish is consumed. Ordering mezze in Cyprus (either of the vegetarian or meaty variery) will often leave you thinking that some grave error of communication occurred whilst ordering and you have inadvertently opted to take part in a ‘man VS food’ style eating challenge. Expect dish after dish after dish of appetisers appearing at your table seemingly without end from humus, tzatziki and tahini dips with homemade pitta bread and olives through to stuffed vine leaves, vegetable moussaka, grilled halloumi and butterbean stew, some mezzes boast up to 15 courses. As the dishes begin to take over every square inch of surface area on the table before you it is easy to feel scared and overwhelmed- but instead of panicking and breaking out into a pre-food sweat, just do as the Greeks do; take it slowly and work your way through the banquet over the course of an evening and numerous glasses of Cypriot wine.
Greek sweets are a particular weakness of mine, and no matter how much mezze I consume I always make sure to leave a little room for dessert. Lokoumades are a firm favourite in my family which Yiaiya will always announce she is making just as you have firmly decided you could never eat again post-consumption a huge meal- but resistance is futile. Warm, sweet and full of flavour these Greek style doughnuts are comforting and terribly moreish. Traditionally topped with sugar, honey, cinnamon, rose water (or all four) loukoumades are always certain to please.
- 1 tablespoon yeast
- 1 cup lukewarm water
- 5-12/ cups flour
- 1 teaspoon salt
- warm water
- 2 cups sugar
- 1 cup water
How to make:
- Dissolve the yeast in the warm water and leave to activate for for 10 to 15 minutes
- Sift the flour and the salt together
- Make a well in the center of the flour and pour the yeast mixture into the middle
- Mix gently while continuously adding warm water until a soft, sticky dough is formed (fairly runny in texture)
- Cover the dough with clean, damp dish-towel and leave to prove until the dough doubles in size
- Heat oil in a deep pan
- Use a tablespoon to drop batter into hot oil. When batter floats and is golden and puffy, remove to drain on paper towel