While in New York I made it a point of visiting the Mastihashop on Orchard street. I had been wanting to go there since 2007 when I first read about mastiha in a trade publication. The word mastiha is the root for masticate. It is the original chewing gum.
Long praised for its therapeutic properties, mastiha has made its way into many different types of foods and body products. The resin is harvested from a tree that is related to the pistachio – the same way it was done centuries ago.
The flavor is slightly pine-like but not at all overwhelmingly so. I purchased a powder of mastiha and salhab (more on salhab to come) that when added to hot milk makes a thick, sweet creamy beverage. I also picked up a pasta called trahana that is a couscous-type grain which contains mastiha and feta cheese. The Mastiha Shop also offers chewing gum, nougats and honey-type products which all contain mastiha.
Here is a recipe using trahana. The grain which is hand rolled with chios mastiha is pictured here raw (first photo below) and cooked with chicken (second photo). If you feel especially motivated, there is a recipe for homemade trahana by Cat Cora on the Food Network site (minus the mastiha). It’s not quite couscous, not quite bulgar. It has its own unique texture.
Trahana Pasta with Chicken
6 chicken thighs
2/3 cup dry white wine
1/2 tsp. paprika
1 Tbsp. Limnos Lamb rub from Savory Spice shop
(or substitute Greek Seasoning)
1 cup tranhana
2 cups water
2 Tbsp. chopped fresh parsley
1/2 pint cherry tomatoes
crumbled feta cheese, to taste
Sprinkle the chicken thighs with the Limnos spice blend. Heat the olive oil and brown the chicken thighs, turning once. Add the white wine and bring to a boil.
Add the trahana and the water. Bring back to the boil. Lower heat and cook for 20 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to rest. Season with salt and pepper, if needed.
Slice the cherry tomatoes in half. Crumble the feta cheese into the tomatoes. Chop the parsley and add to the tomatoes and toss well.
Place the chicken and trahana on to a plate and top with the tomato salad. Enjoy!