Today is Kathara Deftera, which means ‘Clean Monday’ and it is the first day of Greek Orthodox Easter Lent, which lasts forty days.
Kathara Deftera is a public holiday in Greece, and traditionally most people go out for a picnic and to also enjoy the custom of kite flying. All over Greece today the sky will be filled with kites of every size, shape and colour and kids along with their parents will be trying to fly them as high as they possibly can.
Kathara Deftera means no red or white meat, fish, dairy products, or eggs are permitted but you can enjoy shellfish and anything else that doesn’t have any blood or is related to animal products. Traditionally, foods that are consumed today in Greek households are octopus, prawns, calamari, halva, taramosalata, skordalia, olives and the main one is Lagana, which is only made and eaten today.
Lagana looks like focaccia bread and has a crunchy crust and a soft and airy inside. Every bakery in Greece will be selling Lagana today but many people in Greece and the Diaspora still prefer to bake their own.
For those fasting most strictly, Lagana can be made without oil, for those less strict, olive oil is used and although traditionally it was made without yeast, nowadays most people do add yeast to their bread.
Here is a family recipe , which makes about 3 large and 2 small loaves.
Kali Sarakosti all!
– 20 grams dry yeast
– 1.2 kilos of all purpose flour
– 1 tablespoon salt
– 2 tablespoons olive oil
– 1 tablespoon sugar
– sesame seeds for sprinkling
– 3 cups of lukewarm water
– Place the flour, yeast and sugar in a big bowl and mix thoroughly with wooden spoon.
– Make a well in the centre and place olive oil, salt and 2 cups of water and mix thoroughly with your hands.
– Add the third cup slowly and kneed mixture with your hands, until it becomes a smooth like dough.
– Shape the dough into a ball, brush it slightly with olive oil and allow it to rise in a covered bowl for about 40 minutes.
– Place the dough on your work bench, dusted with flour and knead the dough again for another 5 minutes.
– Cut in to 5 pieces.
– Place on lightly oiled baking sheets and shape into rectangular or oval loaves.
– Place on baking tray and brush with more olive oil.
– Sprinkle with sesame seeds.
– Place in 190 degrees C oven and allow to bake for 30 minutes or until bread is golden brown.