You Like Tomato, I Like Ntomato

23 June 2016

Knidos Cookery Club’s fact-finding mission to Greece continues with a look at the contribution of the tomato to local culinary culture.

It may be hard to believe, but it is only in the last two hundred years that the tomato has established itself as a key ingredient in Greek kitchens.

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A plate of tomato fritters from Kos, Greece

It’s found in the classic horiatiki salad that pairs it with cucumber, onion, green pepper, olives and feta cheese. It plays a key role in gemista, platters of vegetables stuffed with rice.

On the island of Kos the sweet local varieties of tomatoes are preserved in syrup or made into jam that makes an orange marmalade rival for a slice of toast.

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Tomatoes preserved in syrup with almonds from Kos, Greece

In Greece the tomato is called ντοματο, pronounced with a ‘d’ sound at the beginning. Modern Greek has no single letter for the ‘d’ sound and uses the letters for ‘n’ and ‘t’ to make this sound.

This week Knidos Cookery Club is serving up tomato fritters, a close cousin of Turkey’s mücver. We’ve used plum tomatoes as they tend to be a bit less juicy than other varieties. The mix needs to find a balance between not being too dry or too wet for the fritters to hold together in the pan.

Ingredients (makes 10-12 fritters)

500 g plum tomatoes

One medium-sized red onion

Fresh herbs – small bunches of parsley, basil and mint or a teaspoon of dried parsley, basil and mint

100 g plain flour

Seasoning mix – pinches of salt and pepper, one teaspoon of cinnamon and one of cumin

Olive oil for frying

Method

Grate the tomatoes and mix with the herbs and flour until you have a mix that is neither too dry nor too wet.

Heat the oil in a frying pan and when hot add fritters made into walnut-sized shapes and flatten with a fish slice or spatula.

Cook on both sides until golden brown in colour and serve with a sauce of natural yogurt, grated cucumber and garlic.

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Head to the Islands

16 June, 2016

This week Knidos Cookery Club is on location in Greece, on the island of Kos, which is a short hop by boat from the ruins of the ancient Carian port city of Knidos.

Turkey and Greece have a lot of similarities when it comes to food with both cuisines drawing on herbs and vegetables common to the areas around the Mediterranean and Aegean Seas. Much of Greek cooking tends towards heartier fare, whereas the Ottoman influence on Turkish cooking lends it a more regal and refined air.

Historically, Greece’s islands have depended on what was grown and produced on the island. This sees the use of dried beans and pulses, olives, cheeses preserved in red wine and bread dried into rusks.

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Aegli restaurant, Kos Town

Knidos Cookery Club’s favourite restaurant in Kos Town is Aegli, glamour in Greek, which is a women’s cooperatve that employs single mothers and women over 50. It uses local recipes and serves dishes made from ingredients sourced only from the island.

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Aegli’s mixed starter plate

The excellent mixed starter plate came with fava, a mashed broad bean paste, a dip made from fresh aubergenes, a cheese and chili pepper blend, giant beans in a tomato sauce and two types of fritters – one made with mashed potato and onion, and the other with mashed chick peas.

This week, Knidos Cookery Club will serve up some revithokeftedes (ρεβυθοκεφτεδες), a chick pea fritter that is a mintier version of falafel.

Ingredients (for 10-12 fritters)

One can of chick peas or 150 g dried chick peas soaked overnight and boiled for an hour or so

Two spring onions

A bunch of fresh mint, sprinkles of salt and pepper

100 g flour

25 g sesame seeds

100 ml olive oil for frying

Method

Mash the chick peas with a potato masher or blender. Add the chopped spring onion, mint and salt and pepper. Mix in the flour and then shape the mix into golf ball-sized fritters and roll them in sesame seeds.

Heat the olive oil in a frying pan then cook the fritters, flattening them with a spatula. Fry until a golden brown colour on both sides.