…..Ha, ha….made you look, made you stare, made the barber cut your hair…
Or rather, two Cypriot dishes.
It’s a beautiful Spring day today, sunny with a light breeze, the sun is streaming in through the open window, perfect for clearing away those Wintery cobwebs.
I’ve told you before I know how overly excited I get when I see Cypriot potatoes at the supermarket.
Not that I’m biased or anything you understand.
but they are, just perfect for so many things- fry them, boil them, roast them.
Waxy, sturdy little spuds they are, capable of being cooked in liquid, without collapsing hysterically in a mushy mess (albeit an appetizing one!)
And what better way to honour these jewels of the Mediterranean, than a traditional Cypriot dish?
Tava is traditionally cooked in a clay pot, with a tight fitting lid, which is where it’s name originated.
Lamb, potatoes, onions and tomatoes are cooked for hours and hours until the meat is mouth-wateringly falling off the bone, the potatoes are meltingly tender and imbued with the cinnamony, meaty, tomatoey juices and the onions will have become sticky, caramelised and sweet as will the fat of the lamb, think crispy and crunchy.
Serves 4 hungry Greeks!
about 8-10 small lamb chops
about 8 small Cyprus potatoes
2 onions, halved, then sliced
1 tin of chopped tomatoes (or fresh sliced tomatoes if it’s summertime and you can lay your hands on beautiful ones)
1 tsp-1 tbsp ground cinnamon (depending on how cinnamony you like your food, I use 1 tbsp)
1 tsp ground cumin (Entirely optional, many households use it in tava, but mine don’t)
salt and pepper
a little vegetable oil to drizzle over to help with the cooking process.
A small glassful of water or white wine.
Peel and slice the potatoes in half lengthways, place in an ovenproof dish along with the chops and the rest of the ingredients.
Cover, either with a lid or foil.
Bake for 3 hours at 170 deg. C. (Gas mark 3, or 150 deg. C, if you have a fan oven, as I do)
You will probably need to uncover it for the last 15-20 mins and maybe turn the oven up too, to make sure everything becomes dark and caramelised.
The whole kitchen smells homely and warm, like it’s just been transported from Cyprus in some kind of Dr. Who/Tardis kind of way and the sun colludes in the illusion, fooling me for a split second.
Can I see the blue sky and hear the waves lapping at my feet?
I’m here in my kitchen in Great Barr.
About as far away as one can get. Sigh.
Anyway, we’ve started as we mean to go on. What better cake to make today, than my Mum’s Cypriot semolina cake?
Still warm, syrupy, fragrant and fresh from the oven.