Kathara Deftera – Clean Monday

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Kathara Deftera (Clean Monday) is a national holiday in Greece and is the beginning of Lent.  This is also the starting day, for those that are up to it, to fast for 40 days commencing on Easter day.

This special day begins with flying a kite!  Along side the roads you can find vendors selling various kinds of kites with anything from your favorite sports team in Greece to children’s popular cartoon figures.  We think of this as a time for the children to fly a kite but it is an activity enjoyed by the whole family.  The idea of watching something fly in the sky has been known to uplift our spirits which is symbolic for this time.  

Greek Kite vendors

Photo source: athenswalker.blogspot.com

Even if you can’t fast for that long (no meat, eggs or dairy products) most will observe this special day by eating some traditional dishes.

Lagana bread, a specialty sesame seed covered flat bread, baked only on this day, along with taramosalata (fish egg roe dip) are two common items on the menu.  Of course all kinds of shell fish (shrimp, mussels, clams, etc), kalamari/squid, octopus and vegetable dishes accompany it as well.  And for dessert try the popular Halva (a sesame seed/tahini paste dessert that comes in many flavors such as plain, cocoa, and almond)!

Lagana_bread

Are you ready to try some taramosalata?  Try this easy recipe and let us know what you think!

Ingredients:

100 grams/3.6 ounces taramas (fish egg roe which can be beige to pinky in color)
1 loaf of bread – inside only

1/2 onion finely chopped
2 lemons squeezed
1 cup extra virgin olive oil
pepper for seasoning

(continue tasting and adding any of the ingredients until you get the taste desired)

 

 

Begin by soaking the bread in a bowl for a few minutes.  Squeeze out all excess water and add to blender with tarama and onion.  

 

soaking Bread

 

While mixer is on slowly pour the olive oil in.

 

Mixer_oil

 

Now add the lemon juice. (Leave some for later in case you want it more or less lemony)

Mixing_lemon

 

Sprinkle some black pepper…

Mixing_pepper

 

Refrigerate for at least 1/2 – 1 hour.  Then serve with an olive and you are ready to dip the Lagana bread!

Taramasalata

 

Kite Photo Source:  www.demotix.com

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