The 44th Paniyiri Greek Festival was due to be held on May 23 and 24. However, after close consultation with the World Health Organization, Queensland State Government and Queensland Health, the decision was made to cancel the 2020 event. Paniyiri is Queensland’s signature celebration of all things Greek and the state’s largest cultural festival as well as the country’s longest running Greek festival.
Paniyiri is a community initiative of the 25,000 strong Greek community of South East Queensland. Funds raised are channelled back into the community via the Greek Orthodox Community of St George, Brisbane. It is Brisbane’s oldest Greek community established in the 1920s. Over four decades Paniyiri has grown to become Brisbane’s favourite cultural celebration, attracting 50,000 people over the famous third weekend in May annually. An admirable success story for the celebration that started in 1976 when a group of passionate Greek Australians wanted to share their cultural traditions with Brisbane.
“Nothing can keep the Greeks down! After staging the famous Paniyiri Greek Festival in Brisbane for 43 years, we weren’t going to let the famous third weekend in May go unnoticed, just because the live festival was cancelled due to COVID-19” said President of the Paniyiri Organising Committee, Chris Kazonis. “This is the first time the Paniyiri Greek Festival has been cancelled in 44 years, and we were determined not to let it pass without sharing our love of food, dance and culture.”
This year’s online festival included Greek cooking demonstrations
Live Bouzouki playing sessions, Zorba dance tutorials, insight into Greek costume making and dining takeaway specials from Nostimo Restaurant followed by a DJ after party.
Though the first online celebrations may be over, here are two recipes that keeps the spirit of the festival going all year round.
The Best Baklava Recipe
- 2 pckts Fillo pastry (total 750grams)
- 1 cup walnuts, chopped
- 1 cup almonds, chopped
- ½ cup sugar
- 1 Tsp cinnamon
- ¼ Tsp clove
- 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 then minutes.
Baklava – Line baking dish (approx. 30 x 28 x 5cm) with one packet of Fillo pastry, brushing every second sheet with melted butter. Mix the nuts, sugar and spices together in a bowl and spread evenly over the Fillo. Cover the lot with the second packet of Fillo 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.
How to make Honey Puffs (Loukoumades)
- ¼ ounce (1 packet) dry yeast
- 250ml warm water
- 250g plain flour, sifted
- ½ teaspoon salt
- Vegetable oil for deep-frying
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 6 Tbsp honey
- 3 Tbsp water
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.
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
- 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.
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