Are Greek and Indian food similar

Greek cuisine vegetarian : When Poppi is cooking

Poppi stands at the stove in her bright Neukölln kitchen, which is both a dining room and a bit of a living room. The ingredients for today's meal are prepared in small bowls on the worktop: chopped onions and pre-fried thin aubergine and potato slices, a bowl of mozzarella and sheep's cheese mixture, lentils.

There are mousakas - vegetarian. The lentils replace the meat, one of Poppi's alternatives to soy. And after braising, the ingredients are stacked, layer by layer, with bechamel sauce on top, in an ovenproof dish and baked in the oven. The thermostat broke the other day, but Poppi is a professional, she can do it that way.

Greek cuisine in green

She never liked meat. When she was a child in the Greek village of Sofiko, near the Turkish border, her father occasionally gave her a young goat or a sheep from the herd. But there was slaughter at Easter. And sometimes she didn't look away early enough when grandmother killed a chicken. “I can prepare meat dishes and I also taste them. But I don't swallow any of it, ”says Poppi.

Greek cuisine in green, purely vegetarian, sometimes vegan, that is their trademark. Theopoula Kechagia, 62, who everyone calls Poppi, trained offset printer and later a cook, has been cooking for decades. Her version of Hellenic cuisine has long since absorbed foreign flavors like welcome guests. She likes to try her way through country kitchens, Yemeni, Indian, Thai, Georgian, Russian. “Immigrant cuisine,” she says, adding lemongrass to the fish, lemon balm to the vegetable stew, and cinnamon, cumin and turmeric to the rice dish.

This is what Aunt Poppi's kitchen tastes like, and this is also the name of the book that she wrote together with her niece Nikoletta Bousdoukou, a thick volume with 90 recipes and just as much Greek-German family history. A book that tells of tradition, of the value of meeting grandparents, parents, siblings and grandchildren at the same table, the steaming pots in the middle, the plastic bowls with olives, feta, sheep cheese next to it and always a bowl of salad. How to manage to leave home and quickly build a new one in Hamburg or Berlin. How it is possible to commute between the worlds while remaining serene and happy and confident from the heart and dancing while cooking, like Poppi. And that you don't have to live an either-or, either Greek or German, but rather a both-and-like, as Poppi always managed and as Nikoletta learned to do.

Her heart's desire: a common café

Generally: Nikoletta and her ideas. When she was able to persuade her favorite aunt to come to Berlin from Greece, her heart's desire was fulfilled. Poppi's mission is to cook for people, to bring people together while eating, she says. For the designer, 42, mother of two, nothing was more obvious than opening a bar together, in the tradition of great-grandmother, grandparents, parents and cousins ​​- all of them cooks and innkeepers.

Nikoletta applied with Poppi and the Greek-vegetarian concept to the district for a gallery café and got the “König Otto” café in the Kindl brewery. It ran successfully for two years before the area became a major construction site. Nikoletta and Poppi switched to the Jewish Museum café. The card wasn't a problem. “There is so much overlap between the two national kitchens,” says Nikoletta. Every Saturday a yeast plait, then bean dishes or spinach rice, and Shakshuka is similar to the poached eggs from Greece.

"We took a look at Ottolenghi and realized that these are recipes that my grandmother and mother made similarly." Working in the Jewish café made Poppi happy because she was able to work with an international team from "Eßkultur". Nikoletta has meanwhile left the restaurant business and advises women on professional issues.
And the cookbook? “It was also a crazy idea of ​​mine,” says Nikoletta. But three publishers liked the concept, and now Dumont has implemented it.

Next idea: a culinary trip around the world

The table is set for the guest, we tell and forks alternately beetroot salad with mint, stuffed aubergine and oven-warm mousaka. Neighbor Karl comes over to the yard and gets a ration. Everything is as it should be. The next idea? “A trip around the world with Poppi,” says the niece. “She doesn't speak the languages, she should just cook with people.” Aunt Poppi sits next to her, takes a fork of mousaka, shrugs her shoulders, laugh lines around her eyes, and she looks as if she's going to go along with that too.

Poppi's Greek recipes: a typical selection

With a total of 90 recipes, Poppi, the Greek, lets you look into the pots in her brand new cookbook. All of them are vegetarian, but they are guaranteed not only to be enjoyed by vegetarians.

Here are some of them.

ZAZIKI (Tsatsiki)

ingredients (4 servings)
1 cucumber (or 1 fennel bulb)
500 g Greek yogurt (10 percent fat content)
1 tbsp finely chopped dill
1 small clove of garlic, crushed in a garlic press
3 tbsp olive oil
½ tbsp brandy vinegar

Peel the cucumber, cut off the ends and roughly grate the rest on a household grater. Then put all the ingredients in a large bowl and mix until everything is evenly distributed. At will
As a variant, instead of the cucumber, remove the fennel green from a fennel bulb and cut it into fine strips. Stir into the yogurt with the remaining ingredients.

Nikoletta writes about this in the book

Whenever German friends and acquaintances came to dinner, tzaziki was a constant topic for us. Uncle Heiner, Hellenophile and adventurous, wanted him "like in Tragano" with a good portion of garlic. Aunt Irene, on the other hand, feared that her sensitive office colleagues would avoid her the next morning. We always have two variants of tzaziki on the table: one with and one without garlic.

We serve the tzaziki as a starter with flatbread or as an accompaniment to main dishes.

Greek flatbread (lagana)

ingredients (for 2 flatbreads)
300 ml of lukewarm water
1 packet of dry yeast (7 g)
1 teaspoon of sugar
500 g flour, type 405
1 teaspoon salt
50 ml of sunflower oil
1 tbsp sunflower seeds for garnish (alternatively sesame seeds)

For the pre-dough, put half of the water in a small bowl. Dissolve the yeast and sugar in it. Then add 4 tablespoons of flour and stir with a whisk. Cover with a tea towel and let stand in a warm place for about 10 minutes until the dough forms bubbles.

Sift the remaining flour into a medium-sized bowl, mix in the salt and make a well in the middle. Pour in the pre-dough, add the rest of the water and oil and knead everything into a smooth dough. The dough must be nice and soft. If it sticks, add a little more flour. If it is too firm, add a little more water. If necessary, only add small amounts of both in order to achieve the right consistency.

Cover with a tea towel and let rise again in a warm place until it has doubled, which will take 30 to 40 minutes.

Shape the dough into two balls and let them stand for another 10 minutes on two baking sheets lined with baking paper. Then shape the balls with your fingers into flat cakes about 20 centimeters in diameter.

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees top / bottom heat. Moisten the surface of the bread with a little water and sprinkle the sunflower seeds over it. Let stand again for 5 minutes. Bake in the preheated oven for 15 to 20 minutes until golden brown. It is best to serve the bread warm.

Nikoletta writes about this in the book
In no other country there are as many types of bread as in Germany. My parents must have been overwhelmed by the diversity. There is much less variety in southern Europe. The flatbread is there
as indispensable as toast for an Englishman. Flatbreads can be baked quickly and easily at home without a bread maker or trendy fermentation dough. Quite simply and in the way that has always been done in Greece.

GIANT BEANS (Gigantes)

ingredients (4 to 6 servings)
500 g giant white beans
1 carrot, 2 celery stalks
400 g chopped canned tomatoes
80 ml of olive oil and a little more
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1 tbsp tomato paste, dissolved in a little warm water
500 ml of water
2 bay leaves
120 ml beer (optional)
freshly ground black pepper
Thyme leaves, chilli flakes, sprigs of thyme for garnish

Wash the beans thoroughly in a colander, cover with plenty of cold water in a large bowl and soak overnight with a level teaspoon of salt. The next day, wash the beans well in the sieve and cook them in a large saucepan with plenty of cold water for about 45 minutes. Then dispose of the water.

Peel the carrot and cut into thin slices with the celery. Puree the tomatoes with the hand blender. Heat the oil in a large saucepan. Sauté the onion in it over medium heat for about 2 minutes. Add the garlic and sauté briefly. Deglaze with tomatoes and tomato paste, add the water. Add the carrot and celery and simmer over medium heat for about 10 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 220 degrees C top / bottom heat. Grease a baking dish about 35 by 25 centimeters with a little oil. Spread the beans evenly in it. Mix in the tomato sauce thoroughly and add the bay leaves. Mix in the beer if you like. The beans are baked in the oven for a total of about 1 hour. After about 30 minutes, as soon as the tomato sauce begins to thicken, reduce the temperature to 180 degrees and bake the beans in the oven for another 30 minutes. Stir occasionally, add a little more water if necessary.

As soon as the beans are ready, season with salt and pepper and add thyme and chilli flakes to taste. Garnish with the thyme sprigs before serving.

Nikoletta writes about this in the book
Gigantes is a dish made from baked giant beans in tomato sauce and herbs. Formerly served more as a starter, the giants are rightly increasingly finding their place as a main course on our table. It tastes delicious with feta and white bread. If you are expecting guests, you should prepare plenty of gigantes - there is guaranteed to be nothing left over.


ingredients (for 4 servings)
2 medium-sized tomatoes, removed from the stem (alternatively cherry tomatoes)
1 yellow bell pepper, freed from stem base, seeds and partitions
4 tbsp olive oil
400 g feta
½ bunch of flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
10 basil leaves, finely chopped
1 medium onion, finely sliced
1 pinch of dried oregano for garnish

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees top / bottom heat. Cut the tomatoes into thin slices. If cherry tomatoes are used, cut them in half. Cut the peppers lengthways into thin strips,
then cut into pieces. Grease a small baking dish about 25 by 20 centimeters with a little olive oil. Place the approx. 2 centimeter thick Feta slices next to each other in the baking dish. Scatter the fresh herbs on top. Top with tomatoes, peppers and onions. Pour the rest of the olive oil over it and bake in the preheated oven for about 20 minutes. Finally sprinkle with oregano.

Serve with freshly baked bread.

Nikoletta writes about this in the book
We always baked on Saturdays. When the long day in the kitchen was over, we shoved some more feta, refined with olive oil, into the oven. And that is still a tradition with us today. Feta psiti, fresh bread, a glass of red wine and a few friends - and the evening can begin.


ingredients (for 4 servings)
4 medium-sized eggplants (300-350 g per eggplant)
60 ml of olive oil (about 8 tablespoons of olive oil) plus 80 ml extra
4 vegetable onions (130 to 150 g per onion)
4 ripe beefsteak tomatoes (alternatively 400 g chopped tomatoes from the can)
½ teaspoon sugar
4 cloves of garlic, finely sliced
1 tbsp tomato paste
150 ml of water
1 teaspoon fresh thyme
½ teaspoon ground cumin
1 bunch of flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
freshly ground black pepper
4 tbsp Greek yogurt (10 percent fat content)
Kernels of half a pomegranate
1 handful of parsley leaves

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees top / bottom heat. Remove the leaves from the aubergines, leave the stalk in place. Cut three times parallel lengthways, so that three gaps are created. Salt these, then place them on a greased baking sheet with the cuts facing up. Drizzle 2 tablespoons of oil over the aubergines in the area of ​​the crevices. Then bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until you can prick in with a fork.

In the meantime, remove the outer peel from the onions, then cut in half (from the stem to the tip) and then cut the halves into fine slices. Rub the tomatoes on the coarse side of the household grater until only the skin is left, discard it.

Heat the remaining 80 milliliters of oil in a large non-stick pan. Sauté the onions over a medium heat for 10–15 minutes. Add the sugar and let it caramelize. As soon as the sugar has melted, add the garlic and cook for about a minute. Then put the tomato paste in the pan and fry briefly until it develops its aroma. Then stir in the grated tomatoes and the water. Mix in the thyme, cumin and parsley, 1 level teaspoon of salt and a little pepper and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes over medium heat until the sauce thickens a little. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Press the aubergines apart on the baking sheet at the interfaces, so that larger gaps are created. The
Spread the onion mixture evenly in it. Then bake the aubergines for another 20 to 25 minutes, until the onions have turned a golden brown color. Serve garnished with a dollop of Greek yogurt, pomegranate seeds and a little parsley.


ingredients (for 4 to 6 servings)
1 medium zucchini
4 very ripe tomatoes (alternatively 400 g chopped tomatoes from the can)
60 ml of olive oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
1 clove of garlic, finely chopped
500 g rice noodles (Kritharaki)
2 tablespoons of tomato paste, dissolved in a little warm water
1.2 l of warm water
2 carrots, grated
150 g frozen peas
freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons of finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
1 tbsp finely chopped dill
for the cream
400 g Greek yogurt (10 percent fat content)
2 eggs
½ teaspoon salt
freshly ground white pepper

Cut off the ends of the zucchini, quarter the zucchini lengthways and cut into slices about 5 millimeters thick. Salt the zucchini slices, put them in a colander and let the liquid drain for 30 minutes.

Halve the tomatoes and rub with the pulp on the coarse side of the household grater until only the skin is left; dispose of them.

Heat the oil in a large saucepan. Sauté the onion in it over medium heat for about 2 minutes. Add the garlic and sauté briefly. Then add the rice noodles and fry for 2 minutes over high heat.

Add the tomatoes, tomato paste and water, mix in the carrots, zucchini and peas and simmer over a low heat for 10 to 15 minutes. Stir constantly so that the rice noodles do not stick to the bottom of the pot.

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees top / bottom heat. Pour the rice noodle mixture into a casserole dish about 35 by 25 centimeters (alternatively small portion molds). Season with salt and pepper and bake for 40–50 minutes.

In the meantime, prepare the cream. To do this, beat the eggs and then mix with yoghurt, ½ teaspoon salt and a little white pepper. Halfway through the baking time (20 to 25 minutes) parsley and
Mix in the dill, then distribute the egg yoghurt evenly on top and bake for another 20 to 25 minutes until it turns golden brown.

This article appeared on the culinary pages "More Enjoyment" in the Tagesspiegel - every Sunday in the newspaper.Click here for the e-paper subscription. You can find more enjoyment topics online on ourTopic page.

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