One of the highlights of the summer just ended was the Val de Jazz festival, held in a group of towns along the Loire valley between Gien and Sancerre.

This year’s performers included a brilliant and hilarious group of guitarists, Les Doigts de l’Homme, and the sublime, superlative, supercharged Johnny Clegg. The icing on this musical cake was a tempting array of sweet and savoury pastries that replaced the usual sausage and chips.

I instantly fell in love with the kokas, tiny turnovers stuffed with tomato, red pepper and garlic, and decided to have a go at making my own.

After several failures (mainly because my vegan version of the hot-water pastry suggested in the recipes I found was too crumbly), I had the idea of using my samosa pastry instead. Not only did this work a treat, it also taught me that this pastry can be baked rather than fried – which will significantly cut the fat content of my next batch of samosas.

If you can find it, chapati flour (known as ata or atta) makes a pastry that is particularly easy to handle. Otherwise wheatmeal flour (or a mix of plain and wholemeal) also works well.

Kokas 1

For 16 kokas

200g (7oz) chapati or wheatmeal flour
4 tbs sunflower oil
Pinch of salt

2 red peppers
400g (1lb) firm-fleshed tomatoes
4 large garlic cloves
1 tbs olive oil
½ tsp ground fennel
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp cider vinegar
2 tsp soya or other plant milk
Pinch of turmeric
½ tsp nigella seeds (kalonji – optional)

Start by cooking the peppers whole under a grill or in a very hot oven, turning them now and again, until the skins start to blacken and come away from the flesh. They will take about 20 minutes. Remove them from the heat, cover with a clean teacloth and leave to cool. This can be done well in advance.

Mix the flour and salt in a bowl. Add the sunflower oil and rub it in roughly. Add 4 tbs of cold water, or just enough to form a ball.

Knead the pastry for about 5 minutes, until smooth and elastic, then wrap it in clean film and leave to rest on the work surface for at least an hour.

Remove the skins, stems and seeds from the peppers. Peel the garlic and tomatoes. Crush the garlic with a knife and roughly chop the peppers and tomatoes.

Heat the olive oil in a – preferably non-stick – frying pan. Add the fennel, let it sizzle for a second or two, then put in the vegetables. Fry until the mixture is fairly dry and just starting to stick to the pan. Season to taste.

Leave the mixture to cool, then stir in the cider vinegar.

Preheat the oven to 200°C (Gas 6).

Divide the pastry into 16 pieces. Roll out each piece into a round about 10cm (4in) across. Put a good teaspoonful of the vegetable mixture in the middle of each round, dampen the edges and fold the pastry over to make a turnover. Seal and crimp the edges.

Put the soya milk and turmeric in a small glass jar and shake well. Brush the kokas with this liquid and sprinkle with nigella seeds (you could also use cumin seeds, paprika or another spice).

Arrange the kokas on a tray covered with baking parchment and bake for about 20 minutes.

3 Responses to “Kokas”

  1. Vita says:

    Nice to “meet” you here! You are vegeterian! Cretan nutrition is a nutrition with a lot o vegeterian recipes. They are under the tab
    χορτοφαγικα . I will be glad to learn your opinion!

  2. Pauline says:

    Hi Vita. We hear a lot nowadays about the “Cretan diet”, which is supposed to be one of the healthiest – doubtless because it is based on plants. Thanks for stopping by!

  3. Vita says:

    I see you learn Greeks very quickly 🙂
    Yes! cretan nutrition is one of the healtiest in the world.
    I want to shew this with the recipes at my blog
    Have you see the email about grape molassa about ash?

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