This is an inevitable post. Inevitable since just in the previous I presented the sibling dish of this one, the hummus. This one is all about eggplant. The one plant that has become a stable food around Mediterranean and primarily in the middle-eastern countries. Most of these countries rely heavily on vegetables as power source. Eggplant is not one of them. It is a plant, but not a power source. With a mere 25 kcal per 100 g of the fruit, eggplant is food with low energy value. It does have some other minerals and vitamins, but again they are not even enough to make eggplant a “super-food”. Then why do we eat it? Why is it so valuable in Middle East, India etc?
Greek restaurants across the USA had to adapt and adjust their menu and recipes. This usually happens with in three ways: i) the adaptation of classic recipes to whatever ingredients are available ii) the adaptation to the taste palette of the locals and iii) the adoption of dishes from other countries just because the locals seem to like them. Actually one of the most classic dishes, the poster child of the Greek food, the gyro sandwich originated in its final form in New York by Greek food track vendors out of necessity to battle tacos and shawarma as a fast food alternative. In the restaurant scenery, one of the Greek adopted dishes was, and still is, the hummus.
Exposure to various cuisine is the portal to understanding and embracing cultures around the world. The flavors represent not only the people’s lifestyle and philosophy but their attitude towards life. And I don ‘t speak of the food you eat when you go out, or the food you make when you have guests. I talk about the food you eat when you are wearing your pajamas and your hair is all messed up. I am talking about real down to home food that is family, nationality and you… Thee real you. The food you eat from a house in India, Bolivia, Ecuador, Greece, Russia, Pakistan and you think you are back home. For a split second that house becomes your home. Continue reading
One of the most recognizable greek deserts is baklava. It is a layered desert with lot’s of nuts and a thick sweet delicious syrup. It a staple to almost every greek restaurant and pastry shop. The history of the desert is long and it is lost in past centuries, somewhere in the middle east. The first record of a desert like such was in ancient Syria where the Assyrians at around 8th century B.C. were the first people who put together a few layers of thin bread dough, with chopped nuts in between those layers, added some honey and baked it in their primitive wood burning ovens.
Halva is on of my favorite deserts. Not only because it is simple to make, but mainly because in my eyes it is just a canvas where you can play with the spices and the flavorings you want. Traditionally this is known to be a Greek desert, however, I now that a similar variation is encountered in Turkey and in India. I will highlight the differences later on the post, but for now let me tell you more about the desert. It was originated somewhere in the middle east, most likely to the region close to India. The basic ingredients are, fat, starch and sugar. We start with the fat that will be the carrier of the flavors and intensify the sweet taste. The starch will provide the main body and structure of the desert. The sugar… Well that you can guess. The only other basic ingredient required here is a water based ingredient that will cook everything.