A Peek into the history of Grecian food
Apart from its philosophy and astronomy, Greece inspires a food lover and his dreams. When you think Greek, think lean. Like lean meat and fish. When you think Greek, think healthy fats, veggies, grains, nuts, herbs.
Some of their food, however, can be quite the contrary. With the likes of Moussaka, Dolmades and baked casseroles no foodie would be disappointed with settling for just healthy options. Richer than the typical Grecian fare, these aren’t overly heavy either. With its vegetarian base lying in aubergine and courgettes respectively, they couldn’t be, stout on the gastric tract I mean.
Well, there are lean eaters and there are prosperous ones. Let’s attempt to make the latter a happy bunch for now, as we delve into the preparation of the Greek Casserole.
Quite honestly, this recipe has an Indian twist to it. In all fairness to the Indian eater, authentic Greek cuisine would taste somewhat bland to a typical Indian eater. It’s all fine when you are ensconced in one of the many islands in Greece, to combine casseroles with Tzatziki dips and the local Ouzo drink. It is quite another thing to enjoy its taste on a spice-heavy Indian palate without a matching ambience and accompanying Grecian dips.
Greek Casserole Recipe - A Grecian Bake, with an Indian twist
- OTG (oven)
- Corningware rectagular baking dish
Indo-Greek Ingredients for Greek Casserole
- 400 gms boneless chicken (diced into cubes)
- 5 eggs
- 1 tbsp garlic (finely chopped, not crushed)
- 2 large onions (diced into medium squares)
- 4 tomatoes (blanched and pureed “thick”, not “thin”)
- 400 gms zucchini (200 grams each of yellow and green coloured ones) - sliced into rounds
- 1 inch long cinnamon (to be removed soon after cooking)
- 1-2 bay leaves (to be also removed soon after cooking)
- ½ tsp (or a pinch) garam masala powder
- 3-4 tbsp bread crumbs (from 1 or 2 toasted slices of bread)
- 6 cubes grated cheese (my choice is for Amul or Mozzarella)
- 1 tsp paprika (¼ + ¾ teaspoon)
- 3 tsp salt (2 + 1 teaspoons)
- 2 tbsp olive oil
The Making of Greek Casserole
- Heat the olive oil in a wok, taking care not to overheat the oil. (Olive oil, as you know has a certain smoking point and when overheated, defeats the purpose of its monosaturated fats which break down to the level of regular oils).
- Add the “whole” masalas, and then remove them too. (We merely use them briefly, to render a mild flavour).
- Add the chopped garlic, onions and season till pinkish. Do not overfry the onions as that would add sweetness which we don't want.
- Blanch and puree the tomatoes to a thickish, somewhat grainy consistency.
- Add the cubed chicken, cook on “high gas” until cooked halfway. Let's leave the cooking of the other half to the oven.
- Sprinkle a pinch of garam masala powder, add two teaspoons of salt followed by paprika and mix in lightly.
- Now is the time to pour in the tomato puree and stir a bit. Turn off the stove within a couple of minutes. Here's your "chicken mix".
- Separately blend the eggs, a fourth of a teaspoon of paprika, followed by a teaspoon of salt. To know if you've reached the right consistency, time the blending to last 5-7 minutes
- Then cool the mixture (note that most of the items in this recipe must be cooled)
Filling the Corningware Dish
- Layer the bottom of a Corningware dish with the "chicken mix". Sprikle the bread crumbs over the chicken mix.
- Next, layer it with the zucchini rounds.
- Pour the blended egg liquid mixture over the zucchini slices.
- Top with grated cheese, then sprikle with remaining paprika.
- Bake in a standard OTG at 175 degrees for 10-15 minutes, with no pre-heating required. Use the central filament to enable even cooking on both sides.