What has Kleftiko got to do with Guerrilla warfare?
Updated: Mar 25
With Kleftiko making an appearance on this week’s menu by popular demand, I thought it would be a good chance to explain a bit about the history behind the dish.
Kleftiko (one of the easier items on the menu to pronounce) gets its name from the Kleftes, groups of bandits who lived in the Greek mountains, fighting in the War of Independence against the Ottomans. Those of you who are etymologically minded might be reminded of kleptomania, as the Kleftes were named for their penchant for stealing things, mainly sheep.
Legend (and history books) have it that these bad-ass bandits would then cook the meat in pits underground, so that their enemies wouldn’t see the smoke rising (see, basically the Vietcong…) the result being delicious, slow cooked, melt in your mouth lamb.
Now I’m not suggesting that shoplifting is the key to an authentic meal, the part of history that is replicated in this recipe is the way the lamb is encased in parchment or foil, to mimic the effect of being cooked underground.
Traditionally the joint of lamb is slow roasted with feta, garlic, tomatoes and potatoes but this modern take swaps parchment paper for filo pastry, serving up classic Greek flavours in a staple of British cuisine… The pie!
Kleftiko pie has been one of the most popular dishes on the menu since the beginning, so I’m excited to be offering it on the takeaway menu this week. If you would like to try it for yourself, you can order and collect from Lakeside Cafe on Friday or Saturday night.
Now shameless plugging aside, what other Greek dish would you like to know the history of? Let me know in the comments, and subscribe if you would like my next post directly to your inbox!