The traditional Sunday lunch in Sifnos is chickpeas. The skepastaria, or special ceramic pot, which is often passed down from mother to daughter, is taken on Saturday afternoon to the baker to cook overnight in the wood oven. Then everyone collects theirs on Sunday morning.
Here the chickpeas are cooked for quite a while in a regular oven.
If you have a ceramic pot about 9 inches in diameter with a lid, great. If not, a baking or gratin dish with a lid will work well. It really is the pot, good olive oil and maybe the wonderful surrounds of a Greek island that can make a dish special.
Put the chickpeas and flour in a bowl, cover with plenty of cold water and soak overnight. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Drain the chickpeas, rinse and put into a large round ceramic pot with a good-fitting lid. Cover with 4 cups of water and add the onions, bay leaves and olive oil. Stir a few times to distribute the onion, then put the lid on. Bake in the oven for 2 hours.
Lower the temperature to 350 degrees F and remove the pot from the oven. The contents should be nice and bubbly. Season well with salt and pepper and mix. Return the pot, still covered, to the oven for a further 2 hours, when the chickpeas will be lovely and soft with a little of the thick liquid left. Turn off the oven and leave the covered pot inside to cool for about 1 hour. Taste for salt and pepper, then serve warm, with a drizzle of olive oil and a squeeze of lemon juice, if you like.
This page created September 2011
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