QUARANTINE DIARIES, COMFORT FOOD & ALL THE SMALL THINGS THAT KEEP US GOING
Tessa Kiros shares her experience from the lockdown in Italy, her wonderful chapati and tips so you can enjoy the wider family of flatbreads.
A few words about you and where did the quarantine find you?
Hi, I’m Tessa – a cookbook author. During this quarantine I have been at our home in Italy, in the countryside of Tuscany, with my husband Giovanni & our daughter Cassia. Our other daughter Yasmine studies in Greece, so she has been in Athens. This has been the hard part for me, but knowing she has been safe with my mom & sister has been incredible.
What did it change for you ?
It slowed me down & put me in the now. I have enjoyed this slowness of life & taking one day at a time. The first thing I did was take stock of our fridge & pantry – like most I imagine. I planted as much as I could immediately & tending to these has been a blessing. Our garden has given many meals of salads & simple soups. A few outer cabbage & silverbeet leaves, some kale, a handful of parsley & a spring onion or 2 simmered, then pureed into a thick cream & served with a splash of olive oil & a scattering of parmesan. My saviour in terms of adding the vegetables to the table – & of avoiding going out to get things as much as is possible.
I really had time to connect with nature because of where we live. To walk in the woods. And watch nature. Watch spring unfold slowly in front of us in its full spectacle & not just a quick glance here & there.
How many loo-rolls can you count in your cupboards?
I didn’t really notice, I’ve been busy in my garden.
Comfort food: Chapati
The recipe I most definitely have made the most in this time is Chapati that I learned in India. It is in my book ‘Provence to Pondicherry’. No yeast. Just a couple of handfuls of flour. No rising or resting time necessary. And can be turned out in a few minutes.
I took this recipe in many directions for example:
*Chapatis to serve with curries & regular dals, & a chance to use so many perfumed spices. Serve with yoghurt & fresh herbs turned through.
*For pita/flatbread I use a mix of white & wholewheat flour – to serve with souvlaki & kebabs, tomatoes, onions, parsley, mint & yoghurt.
*For felafels I use a mix of flour – & serve with tahini, onions, shredded cabbage & sprinklings of fresh coriander & spices.
*for tortilla & taco direction, I use mainly white flour – to fill with beans, avocado, crema espesa, jalapenos & lime.
This has been our pillar of meals. I like that my family build their own on their plate & so do they!
You can make half the recipe, or keep leftover dough covered, in the fridge for the next day. I use a dosa or crepe pan, but any heavy-based flat frying pan will do.
- 250 g heaped 2 cups fine wholegrain flour, plus extra for dustng
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoons milk
- 2 teaspoons vegetable oil
- about 150 ml 2/3 cup tepid water
- a few tablespoons melted ghee
- Mix the flour, salt, milk & oil together in a bowl, add the water & mix to a soft dough, adding a little more water or flour if necessary.
- Knead until it has a smooth spongy texture, about 5 minutes. Cover the bowl with a tea towel & keep in the fridge for when you will use it (or up to 48 hours).
- Divide the dough into 10 balls. Scatter your work surface with a little flour. Roll out one ball to a round (or oval) of about 15 cm. Heat an ungreased non-stick dosa or crepe pan. Add the chapati (or 2 if they fit), flattening out any folds which might have formed. Using tongs, check the underside & when a few deep golden spots appear, & they puff a bit, flip the chapati over & cook the underside. Wrap in a tea towel to keep warm while you roll and cook the rest. If you like you can brush the ready tops with ghee before wrapping in foil.
How do you cope?
Everyday, I try to do something that makes me feel good. A little yoga in the morning. Spending time in the garden has helped me immensely. And long walks in the woods – which we are lucky to be able to do. I feel very grateful to have been in a place that has felt safe in such a difficult time.
Where will you go eat once this madness is over?
Share a wish, just so we can finish on a happy note.
My wish is for healing for our wonderful World. A quick-as-possible medicine to save people’s lives. For everyone to be able to be with their loved ones. And for peace & calm for all.
from Italy with love,
PS: If you wish to be part of my quarantine cuisine diaries and share your experience on Eat Yourself Greek (EYG), please drop me a line here. Thanks, Eugeniaby