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HindustanTimes Tue,23 Sep 2014

The muscle chef of Cyprus

Shara Ashraf, Hindustan Times  New Delhi, March 02, 2013
First Published: 17:14 IST(2/3/2013) | Last Updated: 01:13 IST(3/3/2013)

When Chef George Katasrtofas is not cooking, he is teaching martial arts! The Cypriot chef takes you on a culinary journey to the sunshine island Mess up with him at the cost of your bones. That’s how they joke inside the kitchen when chef George Katastrofas is engrossed in fixing up one of his special meal. The chef  teaches martial art workout to let off some steam, and his biceps measure a whopping 17 inches! “Body combat is a great workout and helps let out stress like nothing else,” says the chef, who was at Eros Hotel Managed by Hilton, Nehru Place to whip up a hearty Cypriot spread. The chef took to body combat when he was only 18, and has bagged several martial art laurels back home. George attributes his bodybuilding success to the healthy his Cypriot diet. “Our food draws on the classic elements of the Mediterranean food. There are plenty of fresh fruits, vegetables, olive oil and grilled meat and seafood pepped up with herbs,” he says. The chefs tells you what makes his cuisine tick:

Lively flavours:
Cypriot cuisine is a fine blend of Eastern Mediterranean and Greek flavours. Over the centuries, different empires, invasions, and traders left their mark on the island. One finds Greek, Turkish, Lebanese and Italian influences in the cuisine.

Meze:
The best way to savour Cypriot food is to go for meze that you can enjoy siga siga (slowly slowly — that’s the Greek phrase one hears in Cyprus everyday) A lively collection of some 30 small different types of dishes, it could include olives in a zingy lemony dressing, taramosalata — salted and cured fish roe, mixed with bread crumbs, freshly baked bread, and some unusual dishes, such as octopus in red wine.

Pourgouri:
A cracked wheat dish, it is flavoured with onions and chicken stock.

Keftedes:
Flavoured with oregano and mint, Keftedes are meat balls made with lamb and fried.

A sip of history
The island has been producing wine for the last 5000 years, and it could well be the cradle of wine development in the Mediterranean basin, from Greece to Italy to France. With plenty of wineries, Cyprus produces a variety of wines, right from the traditional varieties of Marvo (used for reds), the white grape Xynisteri to the better known global varieties such as Chardonnay and Shiraz.

A cypriot salad recipe for you to try: 
If you want to whip up a quick refreshing salad, try grilled halloumi cheese salad with rocket and tomatoes.
Take 100 gm halloumi cheese
6 red tomatoes
50 gm rocket leaves
5 gm oregano
2 tbs olive oil
3 black olives for garnishing and
salt and pepper as per your taste.

Cut the tomatoes into slices and place them on a platter. Place rocket leaves on top and dust with salt, pepper and oregano. Cut halloumi cheese into 1 cm slices and pass through a grill until golden brown. Place on the salad and dress with olive oil, and your salad is ready.


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