Author Nektaria Anastasiadou had the audacity to set her debut novel in the most sacred of all cities for Greeks and employ its revered history and urban landscape as the backdrop for an endearing story of love and food. And her boldness has paid rich dividends.
Anastasiadou’s novel “Recipe for Daphne” is a beautifully written story set in present-day Istanbul that tells how two Greek men vie for the hand of Daphne, a young American.
Prominent Greek American historian and professor of history Alexander Kitroeff wrote a review of her book for The Pappas Post. And the author herself has generously shared recipes from her book.
“This dried fruit and nut pudding descends from Byzantine varvara, which was made for the feast of Saint Barbara and distributed to neighbors and friends,” Anastasiadou said. “It is unknown in some parts of Greece but very common in Turkish homes and pudding shops, such as the one in Taksim at which Kosmas and Fanis meet to discuss love and dating in A Recipe for Daphne.”
The ingredients and instructions for how to make “ashure,” or “dried fruit and nut pudding” follow below.
- 3 cups whole grain wheat (or gluten-free oats)
- 1/3 -1/2 cup honey to taste
- 1/3 cup raisins
- 1/3 cup dried apricots, chopped
- 1/3 cup dried figs, chopped
- 1/3 cup chopped walnuts
- 1/3 cup blanched almonds
- 1/3 cup blanched hazelnuts1/3 cup pistachios
- 1/3 cup pine nuts
- 2-3 Tbsp rose water to taste
- 1 cup pomegranate seeds
- Ground or whole walnuts
- Ground or whole pistachios
- A few dried apricots and pine nuts
Boil the wheat (or oats) in approximately nine cups of water until it softens and begins to fall apart, adding slightly more water if necessary. Stir frequently.
On low flame, add the honey, chopped apricots, chopped figs and raisins. Mix frequently, cooking a few minutes until apricots and figs soften. Mix in nuts and rose water, remove from flame and let sit for a few minutes.
Pour mixture into one large bowl or into smaller serving-size bowls. Allow to cool slightly and then refrigerate.
Once it has cooled completely, decorate and serve…or distribute to friends, family or co-workers.
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