In­crease your pulse rate - it’s good for you

Financial Mirror (Cyprus) - - FRONT PAGE -

Vis­i­tors to Cyprus of­ten com­ment upon the quan­tity of meat served in a meze, or in­deed in most restau­rant and tav­erna meals, and re­mark that the Cypri­ots are ob­vi­ously great meat eaters. It was not al­ways so. I think to­day’s em­pha­sis on meat is a re­ac­tion to the past, the years I call “B.T.”, mean­ing Be­fore Tourism. Cyprus was a poor coun­try with most peo­ple living in vil­lages ek­ing out a mea­gre living from land that was all too of­ten stricken by drought. Meat was for spe­cial oc­ca­sions, re­li­gious fes­ti­vals, saints days and so on. Church tra­di­tion, too, was (and still is) very strong – our for­mer neigh­bour, the dear Maria, for ex­am­ple, a “woman be­yond re­proach”, who baked the blessed bread for the Com­mu­nion at the vil­lage church, used to fast for 160 days a year: 50 days be­fore Easter, 40 be­fore Christ­mas, ev­ery Wed­nes­day and Fri­day, as well as for var­i­ous an­niver­saries and memo­ri­als.

In con­se­quence, veg­eta­bles and pulses fig­ure very strongly in the home cooking of this coun­try. Even when meat is used, for ex­am­ple in the stuffed vine leaves (Koupepia), a lit­tle goes a very long way. It is sad that so many peo­ple come to Cyprus, pass their hol­i­days eat­ing ke­babs, chips and salad, and leave with­out savour­ing some of the lovely food that is cooked here. Like many coun­tries, the best Cyprus food is mostly to be found in fam­ily homes.

Much home cooking en­tails soak­ing white beans or other pulses overnight and then hav­ing a long slow sim­mer to cook them un­til they are ten­der. I think canned beans can make things much eas­ier and pro­duce a de­li­cious re­sult. A great favourite in our house­hold is bean and veg­etable stew, which is very sim­ply pre­pared. 1. Drain liq­uid from the chick­peas and set aside. 2. Put the chick­peas in your food pro­ces­sor/blen­der. 3. Add the tahini, gar­lic cloves, lemon juice and sun­flower oil, and blend. 4. Sea­son to taste and add as much of the chick­pea liq­uid as you want to pro­duce a creamy, not-too-runny ‘dip’.

Chick­peas need a good soak and a long cook, but if you do use the dried va­ri­ety, re­mem­ber they never ac­tu­ally get to­tally soft no mat­ter how long you cook them. I pre­fer canned, be­cause the liq­uid greatly helps the flavour of the dish we are mak­ing.

Pic­tured right, served with kofta and green beans and tomato, to­day, this is quite fre­quently served in the bet­ter tav­er­nas. Here’s how they do it: 200 grams of coarse Pour­gouri 50 grams of very fine noodles (Ver­mi­cellini) crushed very small 250ml of tomato juice 750ml of wa­ter (a full wine bot­tle) 1 small onion, sliced very finely 3 ta­ble­spoons of oil Juice of half a lemon and salt and pep­per to taste

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