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‘Lagana’ and kite flying are the signs it’s Clean Monday (Pancake Tuesday). Other features of the first day of Lent are olives, taramasalata, halva, shrimps and octopus. “Lagana’ is a flat bread with minimal crumbs, with its rich aroma of sesame and its crisp crust. It is unleavened bread, that is, without yeast so it is fasting bread and many do not even add olive oil and replace it with tahini.

Clean Monday is a public holiday, but bakeries work feverishly to make the fasting lagana ready for dawn and supply it hot and crisp to those who are unable to make it themselves. Tradition has it that this is the only day to bake this bread. I wonder why people do not make this dense and delicious bread more often, but it has become tradition to consume it only once a year and it is therefore commercially made.
Of course, we buy the lagana from the neighborhood bakery or bake it ourselves to enjoy with lentils at home. The food on Clean Monday is no longer only a family affair but there’s usually a table set in the village square or some other place where many people can gather or in a friendly home where many relatives, acquaintances and friends are invited.
For two decades cultural associations have been organizing feasts, usually outdoors, with roasted beans, halva and olives. And if the weather permits, the kids will fly their kites out in the open – in fields or at the beach.
I will present to you the morsel made by my Asia Minor Grandmother with tahini. Take it along with you and your friends, all together to celebrate the first day of Lent in the beautiful traditional Greek way.
Blessed Lent!

300g hard flour
300g all purpose flour
350ml lukewarm water
20ml olive oil
2 yeast sachets
1.5 tablespoons tahini
½ teaspoon anise
1/2 teaspoon mahalepi
20g of sugar
½ teaspoon salt

For the sugar water:
20ml of hot water
2 tablespoons sugar

For sprinkling:
Sesame (black and white)

In a small bowl mix 150ml of yeast water and a teaspoon of sugar, leave to rise for a quarter of an hour.
Sift flour into a bowl, make a hole and add olive oil, salt, the remaining sugar and spices. Pour in the yeast when it has risen.
In 200ml of lukewarm water, dissolve the tahini and slowly add to the mixture. Knead very well until we have a soft dough. Cover with a towel and leave to double.
When the dough is ready, divide it into two. Sprinkle with a little flour and roll it out with a rolling pin on greaseproof paper into the shape of the baking tray. Transfer the dough on the greaseproof paper into the baking pan. Allow to rise again for about half an hour.
Dissolve the sugar in the hot water and coat the dough. Press with your fingers all over the surface of the dough, sprinkle with both kinds of sesame seeds and drizzle with a little olive oil.
Bake in preheated oven at 200 degrees for a quarter of an hour.

Good luck!!!