Eustathea Kavouras had dreamed of owning her own restaurant since her youth, when her home was always filled with Greek food. "It seems like we were always baking," she says of life with Greek parents. "It was just like My Big Fat Greek Wedding."
But after being mentored in Indian cooking later in life, she fell in love with that cuisine — a love affair now more than 15 years in the making. "Indian food is very complex; it's a lot to perfect," she says.
After 22 years in the medical field, Kavouras is finally chasing her dream with Greedy Girl Ethnic Street Flavors (2158 South Taylor Rd., 216-465-9877), a 900-square-foot quick-serve breakfast and lunch eatery with seating for 24. It will bring together both her native Greek and adopted Indian cuisines. She's presently in the second phase of an IndieGogo campaign and hopes to be open in June.
"They both have deeply rich, flavorful foods," she says of the pairing.
Kavouras immersed herself in Indian culture during a series of trips overseas. In Bombay, she'd often slip into a cab alone and travel to areas suggested by natives to explore the street food scene. She'd watch as groups of 20 or more gathered around vendors selling pani puri, crispy snacks filled with potato, spices and spicy water.
"By the time they'd served the twentieth customer, the first was back for another round," she recalls. "It was like watching a juggler."
At Greedy Girl, Kavouras will adapt that high-speed peddling to native favorites like sali boti. In India, this sweet and sour chicken dish typically is eaten with rice or bread. Here, it will be turned into a sandwich and finished with potato sticks and cilantro leaves.
The savory counterpart to that sweetness is the chicken Frankie, which she describes as quintessential street food. The roti wrap is filled with chicken cooked in spices and tomato and topped with cilantro and raw onion. "If you talk to someone in Bombay and mention 'Frankie,' their eyes will just light up," she says.
Also on the menu is masala dosa, a large crepe made from rice flour and filled with potato and spices. Okra fries will be sprinkled with Indian spices and lime juice.
While individual items won't be a fusion of Greek and Indian cuisines, they can be combined on a single platter. "You might get an Indian sandwich with a side of Greek potatoes and Greek salad," she explains.
For that salad, Kavouras will be using her own Greek dressing with kalamata olive oil. After all, olive oil was the first thing she loved about Greek cooking as a child, when her grandmother fed her a spoonful every morning.
Street-style twists will be applied to familiar Greek favorites like pastitsio. Typically a casserole-style dish, the Greedy Girl version will resemble ground lamb (or meat-free) balls sprinkled with kefalotyri cheese. You won't find any traditional gyros here, but there will be a lamb sandwich with similar spices and tzatziki sauce.
Greedy Girl will also serve skewered char-broiled pork souvlaki dressed in a summery olive oil/lemon sauce.
For the morning crowd, omelet roll sandwiches cooked in cast iron skillets will come in Greek and Indian varieties. A baklava waffle, with honey syrup and nuts, also will be offered.
Baklava will also be on the dessert menu, along with Greek doughnuts dipped in honey, nuts and cinnamon; homemade Greek yogurt; and Indian ice cream. And with the farmers' market following she has already cultivated for her salted pecan cookies, she says she'll have no problem converting those fans to Greedy Girl.
"Clevelanders are used to a lot of different cuisines," she says. "They clamor for them."
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