The colour was washed-out purple, like clothes that had accidentally been dyed in the washing machine. It looked nothing like the traditional Cypriot dish I had eaten in the local taverna the night before. However, the owner assured me that this was the genuine recipe.
I looked at the cubes of pork marinating in the rough, red village wine my neighbour had given me. They were flecked with bits of crunchy coriander seeds I had crushed with a rolling pin. It seemed too simple, only 3 main ingredients. Surely, I had to add something else. Had I forgotten something? I resisted temptation, left it alone for several hours to bathe in the wine and then cooked it as I had been told. It was a success. The meat that had looked pale and uninteresting before was now brown and glazed with a rich sauce.
Before I began to write this post, I googled ‘afelia’ just to see what came up. From my research, it seems that anything can be called ‘afelia’ as long as it contains red wine and coriander seeds.
The most complicated recipe was Jamie Oliver’s. He adds onions, garlic, tomatoes and either kephalotiri or parmesan – two very strong cheeses – to the original ingredients. I haven’t tried it but I think the red wine/coriander seed combination would fight with the strong flavours of the cheese and tomatoes.
Afelia is not just confined to meat. You can also use the ‘afelia’ method with mushrooms and potatoes and I will give these recipes in another post.
The strangest recipe I have come across is one called Brussel Sprouts Afelia. Fried sprouts are layered with raisins, yoghurt, pomegranate seeds, pine nuts and coriander seeds. There is no red wine, so I’m not sure how it can be called ‘afelia’, but it is.
Here is the recipe for traditional Pork Afelia and to serve - Pourgouri Pilaff.
Afelia – Pork Cooked with Red Wine and Crushed Coriander Seeds (Serves 4)
- 1 kg lean pork shoulder, cut into cubes
- ½ tsp salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 200 ml red wine
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 2 tbsp. coriander seeds
- 1 stick cinnamon (optional)
- Place the pork in a bowl (one that will fit into your fridge).
- Season with salt and pepper and pour over the wine.
- Add 2tbsp of the olive oil (reserve 1tbsp for frying the meat)
- Crush the coriander seeds in a pestle and mortar. If you don’t have one, place the seeds between 2 pieces of cling film and crush with a rolling pin. Don’t be too hard on them; you should still have some large pieces.
- Add the cinnamon stick, if using.
- Cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours, preferably overnight. I have cooked this after marinating it for only a couple of hours and the flavour was less intense as when I marinated it for several hours.
- Remove from the fridge, strain the liquid and reserve.
- Pat the cubes of pork with a paper towel and set aside.
- Heat the reserved tablespoon of oil in a pan.
- Sauté the pork over a medium high heat until coloured.
- Add the reserved marinade and enough water just to cover the meat – don’t add too much, you can always add more later.
- Cover the pan with a lid, reduce the heat and simmer for approx. 1½ hours.
- Check after an hour and add more water, if necessary. Check also for tenderness. The finished dish should be cubes of tender meat covered in a thickish sauce.
- Serve the traditional way with pourgouri pilaff.
- 250 gr coarse Pourgouri
- 1 small onion, chopped
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- ½ litre vegetable stock
- Knob of butter (optional)
- Rinse the pourgouri in cold water.
- In a pan, fry the onion in the oil until softened.
- Add the pourgouri and the stock.
- Cover and steam for 15 minutes.
- Let it rest for 5 minutes then remove the lid and add the butter, if using.
- Fluff it up with a fork to separate the grains.