Revithithada, Chickpeas cooked in the local earthware dish called “tsoukali”, is a classic Cycladic delish.
My friend Adonis, a great cook, when he is planning to cook chickpeas, he makes a meat BBQ the night before, with real wood charcoals.
The moment the flames slow down, he puts the tsoukali upside down on the charcoal, so that the smoke enters the cavity and gives the pot the smoky aroma that will make all the difference in taste! Without washing the pot, he cooks the chickpeas in the tsoukali the following day.
There is lots of talk whether we should put soda while soaking the pulses overnight, but I follow my instinct telling me people in the old times did not include chemistry in their food. I try to use rain water instead, when I am in the islands. Because rain water was reserved for cooking in the old times. The water was gathered from the whitewashed cubic houses’ flat terraces into a special deposit.
Lots of arguing as well whether we put salt while soaking the chickpeas. My answer is YES PLENTY, but you can find your own. Make tests and form your own opinion, that’s the beauty of cooking!
Ah, and let’s not forget. The real secret here is the pot. You can order from Sifnos Atsonios ceramics.
2 cups of dry chick peas, soaked overnight and strained
3/4 cup of olive oil
2 large onions left whole
3-4 cloves of garlic, pureed
2 bay leaves
juice of one lemon
salt and freshly ground pepper
some white flour with little water – for the “glue”
Into the “tsoukali” pot, add the olive oil, the rinsed chickpeas, the onions, the bay leaves, the garlic, salt and freshly ground pepper. Fill the pot with water – the top white line on the tsoukali, marks the point up to where you should add water.
Then soak some white flour with little water in order to make a gluey childish kind of dough, and stick it all around the rim of the pot. Put the cover of the tsoukali firming it well, ensuring this way that no air will be coming out while cooking. Cook in a 180o C preheated oven for at least 5 hours. The time needed depends on the quality of the pulse. Open the lid, adjust seasoning with salt and pepper, add the lemon juice, mix well and if needed, and cook some more until the consistency is up to your taste. According to my opinion, at the end, you should have a thick, chunky chickpeas soup, that is the original Revithada!
If you live in Greece, you can give the tsoukali at your local bakery for them to do the cooking. If you can find a wood oven bakery, it will be a dream come true cooking situation.