A gourmet's delight

The next time you think exotic food, go Greek.

Dhiman Chattopadhyay        Print Edition: May 4, 2008

Mention Greece and a picture of clear blue sea, ancient ruins and strikingly good looking men come to mind. If you have been to Greece already, you must have fallen in love with the Mediterranean Sea and the magnificent beaches. Sadly, you can’t bring them back home with you. What you can do, however, is try out another aspect of this wonderful country—its cuisine. Whether you are heading out to try some Greek food at a restaurant near you or inviting some friends over for an exotic dinner, here’s what you should be trying out.

The beginning

Souvlaki
Souvlaki
It is probably wise to dig into the extremely rich and filling main courses straight away, but if you fancy yourself as a gourmet, then begin with the appetisers.

Dolmadia: If you like rice and don’t mind chewing on wine leaves, then dishes like Dolmadia (mutton and rice rolled in wine leaves) are the perfect appetisers.

These spicy items are tender and chewy, and you will enjoy the moist rice when you bite into them.

The healthy option

Moussaka
Moussaka
Greeks are famous for their salads.

The Greek Salad: This is an amazing blend of feta cheese, tomatoes, black olives, onions, and tons of olive oil. Eaten with pita bread, this salad can pass for a meal on its own.

The Meaty Affair: This is where it gets exciting. Try these main courses and you will realise how the Greeks get those Adonislike physiques. Souvlaki: This is a perfect example of Greek food—pieces of cubed meat barbecued to perfection.

 Where to go for greek food

The place: Moshe
Where: 7 Minoo Manar,
Cuffe Parade, Mumbai
Contact: 022-2216 1266
Open: 12 noon to 12 midnight
Meal for two: Rs 3,000

The place: Hypnos
Where: 66 Hotel Infantry Court,
Gem Plaza, Infantry Road, Bangalore
Contact: 080-41113366
Open: 12 noon to 11.30 p.m.
Meal for two: Rs 1,600

You can go for either lamb or chicken souvlaki— topped with tzatziki. But if you have never tried tzatziki, beware! It is a yogurt-based dressing that is packed with garlic. Breathe carefully after you’ve eaten it.

Gyro salad
Gyro salad
Gyro: While souvlaki is grilled meat, gyro is strips or filets of meat, served in a pita. If you think this is too simple, go for Keftedes— spicy, salty meatballs that are very popular among Greeks.

The sea fare

One of the most popular dishes in Greek food is Calamari (squid). This is served fried or grilled, with various types of sauces, usually tomato-based or dipped in lemon.

The sweet things

Baklava: Still hungry? Order Baklava. This syrup-drenched pastry with pistachio filling promises to fill up any empty space in your stomach.

 Food for thought

The dish: Chicken Souvlaki

Ingredients

800 gm of boneless chicken cut into
one-and-a-half inch cubes
For the Sauce
60 ml lemon juice
60 ml olive oil
60 ml white vinegar
1 clove garlic, minced
½ teaspoon dry mustard
½ teaspoon paprika
¼ teaspoon sage
¼ teaspoon savoury
¼ teaspoon thyme
Add salt and pepper to taste

The method

Combine all sauce ingredients in a bowl and mix well. Then, stir in the chicken; marinade for at least two hours before threading on skewers. Now grill them at high heat for about five minutes per side, until the juices run out. Serve.

Greek aphrodisiacs

There were many specialities in ancient Greece that continue to be consumed today as aphrodisiacs. Hippocrates, the father of medicine, is reported to have recommended lentils to keep a man virile well into old age, a practice followed by the philosopher Artistotle, who cooked them with saffron. Plutarch suggested fassolatha (a bean soup, the national dish of Greece) as the way to a strong libido.

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