Recipes of Crete and Greece:
Veal with aubergines (eggplant)
"Explore Crete" brings you a selection of Mediterranean
recipes prepared by the chefs of Crete. This month Michalis and
Eleni prepare Moskhari me Melitzanes, or Veal with Aubergines, or with
eggplant, if you are buying them in the USA.
Just past the Palace of Knossos, a few minutes walk, some rather
interesting diversions lie in wait for the intrepid explorer. First
is the sight of an Arabian aquaduct looking very picturesque, home
these days to a colony of ravens. Beside this structure sits our
destination today, the small and very charming Taverna “O
Hreiazomenos”. The taverna straddles the corner
of the main highway and a smaller country road. Follow this latter
path and you will soon discover a sort of nature reserve, actually
a very fine park. Here in Crete, so close to crowded Heraklion,
such an undisturbed expanse of green wilderness is a valuable thing
and we heartily recommend that you take the time to visit ‘Agia
Irini in Spilia’, as it is known. Bring a picnic, why not?
Or, if good, healthy Greek cooking is required, call into see Michalis
whose family name, Hreiazomenos indicates how essential they are
around the old Minoan palace, otherwise something of a tourist
The key to success for Michalis, who speaks good English, is
Freshness First. The preparation of his, and Eleni’s, food comes to
them as naturally as breathing, following slight variations on
recipes that are informed by tradition and the seasonal availability
of fresh ingredients. Both members of this husband and wife team
cook, but today we follow Eleni in the kitchen, and she deals with
our questions as Michalis pops in and out, ferrying steaming plates
to the customers. Here is a version of one simple Mediterranean
staple, Veal with Aubergines. In Greece, veal is simply younger
beef. The word for beef, vodino is rarely used here, everyone asks
for moskhari, veal. Melitzanes, aubergines, are available everywhere.
The recipe: Veal with Aubergines (eggplant)
This simple recipe serves four:
1 kilo of good beef, or veal
1 kilo aubergines
1 large onion
4 large tomatoes
Salt and pepper.
First, and most important, get hold of good fresh ingredients.
Ask your butcher, if you want, to cube the meat, ‘kopste
se kivous’. Sorry for the Greenglish translation.
The aubergines are roughly cubed, as shown, each into four or
five pieces. Most people sprinkle a thin coat of salt onto them
at this stage, removing any bitterness. Rinse off the salt after
10-15 minutes. The meat is cubed into fork-sized chunks. Leave
a bit of fat on the meat.
Chop your onions and soften them in a frying pan. Don’t
use too much oil, the beef will provide its own. Add the veal and
cook at a medium heat. Grate your tomatoes and add them too. Fry
the aubergines separately in plenty of oil, hot enough to sizzle.
When browned, remove from the pan.
Now, both aubergines and meat are fully cooked and all you have
to do is to add the fried Aubergines into the veal. This recipe
is not made to look pretty on the plate, but is simple and delicious.
Yannis and Louis
* Article by Louis Tracy and Yannis