Lagana

Today is Clean Monday in Greece! Clean Monday marks the beginning of Lent. As such, foods eaten on this day prepare us for the 40-day fast which follows. Taramosalata is traditionally eaten, along with fava, fresh salads, the few amongst other classic dishes, which of course include halva.

We also eat lagana, a bread especially made for the day. It is a flat, oval bread, sprinkled with lots of sesame, usually made with flour and yeast or sourdough starter. Today we have a very interesting version of this recipe. We are making a lagana with no yeast and with tahini. The recipe comes from the monks in the monastery of St Nectarios in Phocis, in central Greece and appeared in Gastronomos magazine. As we read, yeast and sourdough symbolise rebirth and reproduction, so in some monasteries these are omitted during Lent. Expect something that resembles a flatbread, but quite dense and wholesome with the addition of tahini.

300g all-purpose flour
200ml lukewarm water
1 tsp salt
2 tsp tahini
50g sesame, plus more for sprinkling

In a large bowl place the tahini and water and whisk together. Add the salt, sesame and flour and knead for a few minutes until you have an elastic dough.

Roll it out in an oval shape, around 5-7mm high and transfer to a baking tray covered with greaseproof paper. Place it somewhere warm and let it rest for a few hours or overnight.

Preheat the oven at 190C. Sprinkle the lagane with water and sesame and cook for 40 minutes until golden.

Serve with plenty of taramosalata and fava!

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