Tsiknopempti: One of the tastiest Greek traditions (plus a special offer and a recipe!)
I'm a bit late with the blog post this week. I was going to try and find something out about St.Davids day in Greece but it turns out that's celebrated on the 1st of November (always ahead of the curve!) and actually has nothing to do with our Dewi Sant... Then I realised that in Greece we have something far more exciting (sorry Dewi) to celebrate this week. Tsiknopempti!
Pretty much anything of any note that happens in the Greek Orthodox calendar is marked by a specific kind of food, or even better, a feast. I must admit that my heathen self understands little about what Jesus was supposed to have done and when, never mind the saints that are celebrated on almost every day of the year, but when it comes to the food that coincides with these events, my devotion is religious.
This Thursday is the day when Greeks celebrate grilling meat. Normally, everyone would go out and stuff their faces with souvlaki, kontosouvli, sausages and cuts of lamb, pork, beef and even goat. Like a pagan sacrifice, the streets fill with the smoky smell of charred meat, which is the meaning of the word 'tsikno' (pempti being Thursday)
It is the second week of carnival, which usually involves huge parades all over Greece and is part of the build up to lent (yeah that happens later, we're all over the place, don't worry!) So in anticipation of fasting for 40 days the second week of carnival is dedicated to meat (call it a sausage fest, if you will) with the third week celebrating cheese. And don't worry, if pigging out for 3 weeks hasn't quite finished you off, the start of fasting on 'clean Monday' (kathara deftera) is also marked by a massive feast!
I'm sure tsiknopempti (and all celebrations) are looking a bit different for Greeks all over the world at the moment. More than anything these meals and traditions are an excuse to get together with friends and family. On any celebration day, a Greek kitchen will be full of homemade goodies, waiting for guests to pop in, and local tavernas often push tables together as groups grow and merge (that's before moving them out of the way for the dancing!)
To celebrate this tsiknopempti I have a special mixed grill offer on the menu this weekend. This is a great opportunity for carnivores to try a little bit of everything (and probably have leftovers for the next day!) And if you order today (Thursday) you can have an extra 10% off. Text me on 07450325119 to order or message me on Facebook/Instagram.
For those of you who are a bit too far away to enjoy a Greek takeaway feast, why not try making my marinated lamb steaks at home? Don't forget to serve them with an authentic Greek salad and tzatziki!
4 lamb steaks
1 courgette (optional)
4 cloves of garlic
Roughly chop your garlic and squeeze your lemon, then add the herbs, salt and pepper all together in a cup with some olive oil and give them a good mix. Pour over the lamb steaks and leave them to marinate in the fridge for about 2 hours. Bring a frying pan to high heat and add some olive oil. If the steaks are fatty, add some salt to the fat to make it crisp up. Fry the steaks for about 4 minutes on each side ( I like them a bit pink in the middle, you can leave them longer if you want them well done.) I like to serve these with a courgette that's cooked in the juices from the lamb, if you decide to add this, just chop the courgette (half moons!) and fry it up in the lamb marinade. Once their done, put them on a plate to rest, and the lamb with some more olive oil and lemon juice. You can sprinkle some more herbs on top to serve.
Kali orexi! (Bon appetit!)