“Nistisimes Syntages” are the Lenten recipes the Orthodox can eat during fasting periods. The Orthodox religion has a lot of fasting periods. The period of the Great Lent starts on Kathara Deftera (Clean Monday) and this period is called Saracosti.
During the period of Saracosti the faithful fast for a period of 48 days and not 40, as it is falsely believed: the six weeks of Lent and Holy Week. This is not obligatory and most people fast for a couple of weeks before Easter.
The fasting period of Easter ends after the resurrection of Jesus.
The Christmas fasting period starts on the 15th November and ends on the 24th December. From the 15th November till the 17th December, fish is allowed to be consumed but not on Wednesdays and Fridays, which in any case all Wednesdays and Fridays of the year are fasting days.
The fasting period before the Assumption of the Virgin, starts on the 1st of August and ends on the 14th of August and of course there are many other days when fasting is part of our religion.
Meat and animal products (cheese, milk, butter, eggs, lard), fish (meaning fish with backbones), olive oil and wine (all alcoholic drinks) are not consumed during the weekdays of Great Lent.
Octopus and shell-fish are allowed, as is vegetable margarine, shortening, and vegetable oils, gelatin, olives, as well as honey are allowed.
On weekends, olive oil and wine are permitted. Fish is permitted only on two Sundays during the Lenten period: on the Feast of the Annunciation (March 25) and on Palm Sunday (one week before Easter).
The purpose of fasting is to cleanse the body as well as the spirit in preparation for accepting the Resurrection at Easter, which is the most sacred of all observances in the Greek Orthodox faith.
Through fasting, we also learn to feel compassion for the poor and hungry and to save our own resources so that we can help those in need.
During this period I shall try and post mainly Nistisimes Syntages (Lenten recipes). However, I do have lots of recipes I have prepared before Lent, which I shall also post.
If you exclude the recipes with seafood, gelatine and honey all other recipes here are vegan:
I apologize if in some of the links you do not find some of my Cypriot “nistisimes syntages”. This means that they have been included in my cookbook and had to be removed.
However, feel free to email me and I will send you the recipe.
During the Greek Orthodox Fasting period, meat and animal products (cheese, milk, butter, eggs, lard), fish (meaning fish with backbones), olive oil and wine (all alcoholic drinks) are not consumed during the weekdays of Great Lent. Octopus and shell-fish are allowed, as is vegetable margarine, shortening, and vegetable oils, gelatin, olives, as well as honey are allowed.
Ampelofassoula are the fresh green green beans (Vigna unguiculata) also known as cow peas, also called louvi in Cyprus. These beans are eaten before they mature,usually boiled and eaten as a salad with olive oil and lemon juice.
Hoummous soup is made with the same ingredients as for hoummous dip. More hot broth is added until it reaches the consistency of a soup and is served with croutons. The cooked chickpeas can be freezed, so when making this soup, I usually boil more in order to make the dip whenever I like.
Revithia giahni sti gastra is a vegan dish with stewed chickpeas, traditionally cooked in a clay pot and baked in a wood burning oven. However, not all of us have wood burning ovens or clay pots but we can still cook it in a Dutch oven or any casserole dish in our home oven. If you don't have any of the above, use a baking tin which cover with an aluminium tent.
Koukia, Fava beans (Vicia faba), in Greek koukia (plural of word kouki), pr. kou-KHIA, is an easy, vegan Greek dish paired with lemon, dill, fennel and parsley, which adds lots of flavour to this healthy dish.
Vazania, is the name of eggplants in the Cypriot dialect, (in Greece they are called melitzanes), which are fried together with potatoes and stewed, to make them giahni, which is a delicious vegan and frugal dish.
Kounoupidi me Patates Kapamas (pr. kou-nou-PEE-dee MEH Pah-TAH-tess Kah-pah-MASS) is a simple vegan Greek Stew with potatoes. You can also make the dish without the potatoes and serve it as a side dish.
This Brown Lentils with Carrots, Orzo and caramelized onions dish has been one of my family's favourite Cypriot dishes for years.
The addition of carrots and serving them with caramelized onions on top, add a lovely sweetness to the dish and an intense depth of flavour.
Brown Lentils with Smoked Eggplant and Pasta is inspired from my Cypriot dish called Fakhes Moudjentra. It is a light dish with a lot of flavour from the smoked eggplant as well as sweetness from the onion and carrot. The pasta is cooked in the leftover fluid, which absorbs all the flavour and adds body to the dish, making it a healthy, nutritional and filling dish.
Pastitsio nistisimo (pr. Pah-STEE-tsio Knee-STEE-see-moh) is a vegan pasta casserole dish made with tubular pasta, vegetable filling and topped with a vegan faux béchamel sauce. The same dish can be made vegetarian using the same filling but adding a real bechamel sauce on top.
Gemista (pronounced as ye-mi-STA), are Greek stuffed tomatoes and peppers filled with rice and herbs, baked in a tomato sauce. Between the gaps of the vegetables we add potatoes which absorb all the wonderful flavours of the vegetables. As potatoes need more time to bake, we must cut them into thin wedges about twice the size of potato chips.
In Greek, htapodi is octopus and makaronaki kofto is a small pasta, like ditali. It is cooked in a tomato sauce and then in the sauce we cook the pasta. It is a Lenten recipe, so during Lent no cheese is added on top.
One of my favorite dishes in the whole world is Greek style octopus salad, or “htapodi salata”, which combined with boiled potatoes, green onion, parsley and extra virgin olive oil is fabulous served as a side or main dish.