Friday, 4 May 2012

Cheap 'n' Greek 'n' frugal: Lentil stew (Φακές)

Prices are in euro (valid in Hania). All ingredients are Greek or locally sourced; those marked with * are considered frugal here because they are cheap and/or people have their own supplies.

Lentil stew (or soup - it can be made into either, using the same ingredients) - commonly known as 'fa-KIES' in Greek, is eaten as frequently as fasolada, the Greek national bean dish. It's easier and quicker to make than fasolada, which is why I like making it. It's always the first meal I make when we return from a long trip away from home, because it's so easy to make - you can unpack your suitcases, put a load of washing on and get over jet lag or place/climate changes while it's cooking. All the ingredients needed to make it are pantry staples. As a stew, it simply gets better when left overnight. And it will be left overnight,because, just like fasolada, you never make enough for only one serving, so you'll have more time to rest after your holiday.

You need:
a few glugs of olive oil
400g-500g brown lentils (Greek-grown lentils cost about €2)
1 large onion*
2 cloves of garlic*
400g pureed tomato (I use my home-made tomato sauce)*
salt, pepper and oregano to taste*

Finely chop the onion and garlic. Wash the lentils and drain them. Heat the oil in a large pot, place all the ingredients in it, add plenty of water (twice the volume of the ingredients), and cover the pot. Cook on the lowest heat for two-three hours. I went to the supermarket to stock up on fresh food while my fakies were cooking.

My cutlery, crockery and clock are all family heirlooms from my NZ years.

We like our lentils like a stew. If you prefer them to be a soup, just add more water (to your plate or the pot) and mix till well blended. We had our lentil stew with classic Greek bakery bread, some slivers of Dutch herbed cheese which I'd bought at Zaanse Schans, and avocado dip sprinkled with smoked paprika powder (a present from a friend in Holland).

Total cost of the meal for four people (served twice): about €3, together with the cheese; about 40 cents per serving.

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