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.
Indo Greek Ingredients
400 grams of boneless raw chicken (diced into cubes)
1 tablespoon of finely “chopped” garlic (not “crushed”)
2 large onions (diced into medium squares)
4 tomatoes (blanched and pureed “thick”, not “thin”)
400 grams of sliced zucchini (200 grams each of yellow and green coloured ones)
An inch-long cinnamon, to be removed soon after cooking
1 to 2 bay leaves, to be also removed soon after cooking
A half teaspoon of “garam masala” powder
3 to 4 tablespoon of bread crumbs (from 1 or 2 toasted slices of bread)
6 cubes of cheese (my choice is for the Amul brand or grated Mozzarella)
1 teaspoon of paprika (1/4th + 3/4th teaspoon)
3 teaspoons of salt (2 + 1 teaspoons)
2 tablespoons of olive oil
The Making of the Casserole
- Heat the olive oil in a vessel, taking care not to overheat it. Am sure you’d know that olive oil 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. They are added merely to render a mild flavour.
- Add the chopped garlic, onion and season till pinkish. Do not over fry the onions as in doing so it would lend a sweetness to the dish.
- Blanch and puree the tomatoes till thickish.
- Add the cubed chicken, cook on “high gas” until cooked halfway. Leave the cooking of the other half to the oven.
- Sprinkle the “garam masala” powder, then two teaspoons of salt.
- Add the paprika and mix lightly.
- Now is the time to pour in the tomato puree and stir. Turn off the “gas” within a couple of minutes of its addition.
- Separately grind eggs, a fourth of a teaspoon of paprika, followed by a teaspoon of salt. Grind the egg mixture for around five to seven minutes. Then cool the mixture. (Remember that most of the items in this recipe should be cooled)
Filling the Corningware Dish
- Layer the bottom with the chicken mix
- Sprinkle the bread crumbs over it
- Next, layer it with the zucchini rounds
- Pour in the egg liquid mixture
- Top with grated cheese
- Sprinkle with the remaining paprika
- Bake in a standard OTG at a 175 degrees, with no pre-heating. Use the centre filament to enable even cooking on both sides
All items that go into the bakeware need to be cooled before moving on to the next step.
The Fringe Benefit
To serve the casserole in a casserole!