JOANNA'S FOOD: family cooking, from scratch, every day

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Mount Athos diet / chickpea patties

This weekend the papers were full of food: Delia's new book, full of so-what-? recipes, appeared in at least two. Out of the Guardian/Observer fell two little booklets about the food and diet of the monks at Mount Athos, "the world's healthiest people" - men who fast 200 days of the year, who eat a home-grown, home-made version of the Mediterranean diet, two meals a day, red wine for breakfast. Everyone stops eating when the bell rings - it's rung when the ringer judges the eating to have slowed down, so no-one eats too much (and visitors, it emerges, are likely not to eat enough, at least for the first couple of meals).

I don't like faddish diets, so I'm wary. Five recipes were given, taken from a book in Greek: artichokes with potatoes, peas with pilaf rice, chickpea patties, fish soup, and cuttlefish with rice. Good, wholesome, simple food, easily adaptable to a Western kitchen. Here's one, I haven't made it yet, but I don't want to lose it in the welter of paper here.

Chickpea patties
for 4-5

300g tinned chickpeas
3 cloves garlic
1 chopped onion
1 handful chopped flat-leaf parsley
1/2 tsp ground cumin seeds
100g flour
one beaten egg
olive oil for frying

The monks do this with a knife and a pestle, but we are going to use a Magimix. Blitz the chickpeas with the garlic, onion, parsley, cumin and flour. Pepper but probably not salt. Tip into a bowl and add the egg. Mix into a dough, then rest in the fridge for 10 minutes (more?).

Shape the patties; you want them to be quite thin. Heat the oil, and fry them gently - the heat needs to be low enough to be cooked inside before they brown.


Related links

Chickpea mash
Nohutlu pilav

PS Despite an extensive search, I couldn't find these little booklets on the Observer website, but here's a link to an article by William Sitwell about Mount Athos itself.


Aparna Balasubramanian said...

These are lovely. You can try a variation using coriander leaves (instead of parsley), a slice of whole wheat bread or two and 2 tbsps of fine rice flour(instead of flour). You could omit the egg and add Kashmiri chilli powder in amounts of your choice (a milder but colourful Indian chilli powder) instaed of pepper.

aforkfulofspaghetti said...

I'm hanging onto those little booklets, too! Those recipes looked simple, healthy, and delicious - no wonder those monks live to a great age... As for Delia - the less said, the better.

Joanna said...

Aparna thank you for the variations, lovely - coriander's definitely a good substitution, also mint, I think. Rice flour - probably chickpea flour too, although that might make them a little heavier.

AFOS - yes, good food for thought ... although I wonder how much their actual lives have to do with their great age. As for Delia, let's not go there ;)


wosnes said...

I'm not sure I'd call the monk's diet "faddish", but their traditional diet. Sounds similar to the traditional Cretan diet -- but less fish and dairy. Wish I could see the booklets (I'm in the U.S.). Their diet isn't much different from HFW's slimming diet and others I've read about.

Here's another article about them:

Nan said...

You won't believe it, but I have a recipe for Chickpea Patties that I got from Martha Stewart's Everyday Food magazine. They are just delicious. The recipe is nearly the same, but with the addition of a carrot and mashed potatoes! I was able to find it online, in case you are interested:

I serve mine with a little tomato sauce.

Anonymous said...

Totally agree with your views on faddy diets. I work atDorset Cereals and wethink that eating well, and being active in a fun way makes you feel great – there is no need for rigorous regimes and strict diets.

What do you think? Do agree that you can feel good and have fun
at the same time?

We feel so strongly about this that we have created the Light
Hearted Living Challenge to help people feel good and have fun in
the dark months. We would love to hear what you think – does it
work, is it fun, is it relevant to you? Check it out and have
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Joanna said...

Wosnes - I wasn't meaning that the monks themselves were faddish, but the western take up of their diet certainly is - it's a here-today gone-tomorrow phenomenon. I will probably go back to this, because, as you say, it's closely allied to HFW and the sort of things we try to eat here, be email me if you'd like more ... maybe I can do that thing I've never done before and make you a copy to send, but I'd need some tech advice ;) And thanks for the link

Nan, thanks for the link. Gives me a whole new insight into Martha Stewart - I don't quite get her, in the way that I suspect Americans don't quite get, say, Delia Smith. Carrot would be a good addition to help get my children to eat this ... they are SO set against the idea of chickpeas, makes me want to weep!

Hi Harriet ... thanks for this ... I think I'd better email to carry on this conversation. My instinct usually is to delete commercial comments, but I'm making an exception here, because we've occasionally bought Dorset Cereals (Waitrose), the only muesli type mixture to pass my various label-reading tests. And it tastes good. Only I do miss mixing muesli myself, it doesn't take long, is therapeutic, and means I know beyond a shadow of doubt what we're eating.

Anonymous said...

Good for people to know.