Enjoy 'taste' of famous Greek festival

Brisbane’s cancelled Paniyiri Festival goes online for weekend celebration.

The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic may have forced the cancellation of this year’s Paniyiri Festival in Brisbane but that has not stopped organisers from offering a “taste” of the annual celebration of Greek culture.

Queenslanders have been invited to take part in a Facebook Live celebration in which you can learn to dance the Zorba while enjoying  home-cooked Greek treats (See recipes below).

Paniyiri Organising Committee President Chris Kazonis said the event was the longest running Greek festival in Australia and it was important it continued to be recognised, despite the cancellation.

“Nothing can keep the Greeks down,” Mr Kazonis said

“After staging the famous Paniyiri Greek Festival in Brisbane for 43 years, we weren’t going to let the third weekend in May go unnoticed, just because the live festival was cancelled due to COVID-19.

 “This is the first time the Paniyiri Greek Festival has been cancelled in 44 years, and we are determined not to let it pass without sharing our love of food, dance and culture.” 

The Facebook Live event, from 2-4pm on 24 May, will feature Greek cooking and bouzouki sessions and Zorba dance instructions. There will also be a Facebook Live session with DJ Jordy Gee from 7pm on 23 May.

Best Baklava recipe

2 pkts filo pastry (total 750g)
1 cup walnuts, chopped
1 cup almonds, chopped
½ cup sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
¼ tsp cloves

4 cups sugar
2 ½ cups water
½ cup honey
1 tsp of lemon juice
Pinch of lemon rind
1 cinnamon stick

Syrup: Mix all ingredients together and boil the syrup for 10 minutes.
Baklava: Line baking dish (approx. 30 x 28 x 5cm) with one packet of filo pastry, brushing every second sheet with melted butter. Mix the nuts, sugar and spices together in a bowl and spread evenly over the filo. Cover the lot with the second packet of filo sheets which have been buttered as above. Pour remaining butter over it and cut the baklava into diamond shapes. Sprinkle with water and bake in moderate over for 80-90 minutes. If pastry becomes golden brown too early, cover with foil. Allow to cool and pour the hot syrup over it. Serve cold.

Yummy Honey Puffs (Loukoumades) recipe

¼ ounce (1 packet) dry yeast
250ml warm water
250g plain flour, sifted
½ teaspoon salt
Vegetable oil for deep-frying
1 teaspoon cinnamon
6 tbsps honey
3 tbsps water

To make the batter:
Dissolve the yeast in ½ cup of warm water for 15 minutes or until it becomes frothy. Place the flour and salt in a bowl. Make a well in the centre and add the yeast solution and remaining ½ cup warm water. Mix well to make a thick batter. Cover with a kitchen towel and leave for 1 hour in a warm place or until the batter has doubled in size.

To make the syrup:
Place the honey and water in saucepan and simmer, stirring for, 10 minutes. Set aside and cool.

To make the honey balls:
Heat oil in a large saucepan suitable for deep-frying. Drop heaped tablespoons of the batter into the hot oil, turning them as they puff up. Fry for about 3 minutes or until they are golden brown. Drain on paper towels and keep warm until all batter is used. To serve, place on a large platter or individual plates, spoon the syrup over and sprinkle with cinnamon. (Makes about 26)

Secret Souvlakia recipe

Serves 6-8 people
1kg lamb, beef or chicken
½ cup of olive oil
½ cup of white wine
1 lemon juiced
1 tbsps Oregano
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
Salt and pepper
1 capsicum (optional)

Cut the meat into 3cm cubes and place them in a glass bowl. Mix all the other ingredients separately and then add them to the meat pieces. Mix well and leave overnight in the fridge to marinate.

Separate the meat and thread six pieces at a time onto a wooden skewer. One or two pieces of capsicum may be placed between the meat on each skewer to add colour. Cook on a hot grill or over charcoal for about 15 minutes or until cooked. They are served hot.