It's all Greek! | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, October 18, 2016 / LAST MODIFIED: 10:45 AM, October 20, 2016

It's all Greek!

As the year rolls into its final trimester and shorot makes way for hemonto to hopefully bring in cooler days, I bring to you recipes from a land far off, far removed from the deltaic flat lands of Bangladesh. I bring to you recipes from the Mediterranean, from sun-kissed Greece. I will be spending the next one year here and I hope to incorporate the local ingredients and present them to you with a twist of Fearless Olive's 'deshi' flavours. 

Kali orexi or bon appetite!  

Gigandes Plaki

Gigantic beans is a great translation of this dish as it is a staple eaten all over, especially in autumn and winter, as the hot beans in a tomato stew warm the senses like nothing else. Ideally prepared with Lima beans, you can of course eat it with rice, bread or just spoonfuls of this healthy dish. 


½ kg dried beans (The best option is shim)

2 cups chopped onion 

½ cup chopped garlic

1 cup diced carrot (to add some sweetness)

¼ cup chopped celery (you can use the stalks of coriander also)

¼ cup chopped fresh parsley (or coriander)

1/3 cup chopped fresh mint

1 tbsp dried oregano

½ tbsp red chilli flakes

2 cups crushed tomatoes (without the peel)

2 cups reserved cooking water from boiling beans 

1 cup water, room temperature

1 cup olive oil


Soak dried beans for at least 2 hours in advance. However if using fresh 'sheem' then just boil till tender and reserve the water for further use. Sauté chopped onions and celery in olive oil over medium low heat until glazed, and then add garlic and cook until it gives off its distinct aroma.  Add herbs and spices and cook for about 2 more minutes as the smell give you an idea of a good mix of flavours. Add tomatoes and carrot and cook for another 4-5 minutes. Add reserved bean-cooked water and bring sauce to a boil.  Remove from heat and set aside until the beans are ready for baking.

Layer the boiled beans evenly on a baking pan and pour sauce on top. Add 1 cup water (at room temperature) and bake, uncovered, for 1 hour at a 120 . Just make sure that it does not burn, but it may form a thin crust.


Allow baked beans to rest for about 15-30 minutes before serving. Serve with crusty bread if possible or with white rice and 'bhorta'.

Health focus

Packed with proteins, tomatoes not only add vitamin C, but also help in the absorption of iron, making this one power packed meal! 

Chicken Souvlaki

The Greeks have been grilling their meats since the 17th century BCE, as skewers were found during excavations in Santorini. The word 'skewer' itself is a derivation of the word 'souvlaki', a very popular street food available all over Greece. Souvlaki is mostly served as a wrap in a pita bread, with yoghurt and a sauce and fries.


6 pieces chicken thighs 

1 tbsp Ajwain (caraway seeds)

2 bay leaves

½ cup diced garlic

1 cup diced onions

¼ cup dried oreganos 

1 cup chopped green spring onions

1 tsp coriander paste, or handful of chopped parsley

Salt and pepper to taste

½  cup olive oil 

For yoghurt sauce -

1 cup tok doi (sour yoghurt)

¼ cup roasted zeera or cumin seeds

Salt to taste

¼ cup chopped coriander 


Tips -

For this recipe you may use a skewer but for best results, go for a marinade and a bake. Boil the bay leaves for 2-3 minutes and then crush with hand. Finely chop the chicken thighs into skewer sized pieces. Mix up the chicken with all the ingredients and the crushed bay leaves and leave them covered, for about ½ hour. Heat the oven for about 10 minutes at 180  before lowering the heat to about 120 degrees. Wrap the marinade in foil and stick it into the oven. The chicken should take about ½ hour to cook. Do not forget to turn it over and check on it. You may want to sauté it initially but as again, an entire baked experience is suggested. Bake until chicken is tender to your taste. 

Serving -

Serve with pita bread, naan and the yoghurt sauce. Sprinkle some paprika and zeera powder. You can wrap it up inside the bread with extra salad and the yoghurt poured over and eat it like a roll. 

Roasted potatoes 

The story goes that sometime in the 1820s, the first prime minister of a newly independent Greece imported potatoes and ordered them to be locked up so no one could have them. A man who knew his people well and their intrinsic mistrust of anything to do with the state, the potatoes were stolen overnight! And now, a Greek dinner table looks incomplete without the presence of this wondrous starch, thanks to the reverse psychology of a politician!  


1 kg potatoes, cut up in wedges

½ cup lemon juice

1 tbsp dried oregano

¼ cup diced garlic

1 tbsp semolina or suji (will add a crust)

Salt and pepper to taste

½ cup olive oil (you can add more if the potatoes seem too dry)

Optional: Dhaka poneer for a top layer sprinkle


Toss all ingredients together and mix them up properly. Preheat oven at 180  for 10 minutes. Layer an oven dish base with foil and spread the potato mix. You may sprinkle the semolina on top of it instead of mixing it together. Stick the dish into the oven and let it cook for about half hour. Keep checking and turning over the potatoes. They should turn light brown with a top crust.


You may serve it with the above Souvlaki dish as an alternate to the French fries or just with the yoghurt dip.

Health focus

A great alternative to French fries, baked potatoes can be your child's favourite snack and release you of the guilt of serving them unhealthy snacks!

Photo: Collected

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