Kapani Open Market and Braised Lamb Shanks With Beans

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IMG_1322-1As an adult and as someone totally (I mean totally into food), a visit to a market with the freshest of seasonal ingredients on offer is like a trip to an amusement park.IMG_7564

The Kapani Agora (market) in the center of Thessaloniki is one of those attractions…amusement for the foodie. The shouts of store owners and hired hands barking the day’s specials, pointing what’s the best, the freshest, the cheapest.IMG_7592

The sounds of cleavers chopping meat, the smell of meat, spices, herbs, seafood. When you’re in a market like Kapani…the smell of fish and seafood smells only of the sea. What fish and seafood one eats today was just swimming in the seas that morning.

During the Ottoman occupation, the market was called Oun Kapani or “flour market”. There used to be a square in the middle of the market and that’s where Turks would conduct public hangings of Greeks. The Kapani market burned down in 1889 and once again in the great fire of 1917.IMG_7559

The Kapani market is easy to get to when in Thessaloniki. Get yourself to Aristotle Square and Egnatia and walk along the right-side of arches, downwards toward the sea. In just minutes you will hear the sounds of the market and notice the rush of people entering and leaving Kapani. You’ll will be greeted by a couple of bakeries with their offerings of bread, Koulouria and sweets and then you will gaze at the array of fresh fruits and vegetables.IMG_7595

The southern “stoa” or portico is where one will find purveyors of cheese, sausages and cured meats.IMG_7594

A walk along Vlali Street and one will pass by the butcher shops with their lamb, goat, beef, poultry on offer, cut and trimmed per order.IMG_7572

My favourite roads are Askitou and Menexe where one will find all the fish mongers with daily catch. Having all the freshest seafood available made think a couple of times about moving to Greece for good!IMG_7573

Stores offering olives, cheeses and spices are strategically located at each corner of the market.IMG_7627

I’ve been to this market many times but I don’t tire of it. It’s a joy to walk through Kapani when you actually have a shopping list but it’s almost as fun just walking around and gazing at all that’s fresh and all that’s seasonal.

Here’s a little slide show with more photos I took whilst walking through the market.

Here in Canada, the weather now resembles autumn more than summer. A jacket is required for the evening and heartier dishes beckon.

Yesterday I braised some lamb shanks and paired it with some navy beans (fasolia). Braising meats are easy, economical and you’ll end up with the tastiest dishes.IMG_1326-1

Just remember when braising, always brown your meat, do over-crowd the contents (choose an appropriate vessel) and whatever it is your braising should not be submerged in the liquid.

The ingredients here are basic: lamb, your usual celery, carrot & onion trio, some garlic, wine, bay leaves,  allspice berries and fresh rosemary.

The navy beans are dried and I had them soaking overnight before adding them to the braise.

Grab yourself some lamb shanks, get a notepad and let’s braise some lamg shanks. I accept that another summer is gone. I’m full-on with the autumn menus and all that’s comfort food!IMG_1328-1

Braised Lamb Shanks With Beans

(serves 4)

4 lamb shanks

1/4 cup olive oil

all-purpose flour for dredging

1 large onion, sliced

3 cloves of garlic, chopped

1 stalk of celery, chopped

1 carrot, diced

3 bay leaves

5-6 allspice berries

the leaves of 2 sprigs of fresh rosemary

3/4 cup of dry white wine

1 1/2 cups of dried navy beans (soaked in water overnight)

2 heaping Tbsp. of tomato paste + 2 cups of hot water

1 cup of hot water

salt and pepper to taste

extra-virgin olive oil for finishing

Pre-heated 350F oven

  1. Pre-heat your oven and rinse and pat-dry your lamb shanks. Season with salt and pepper and and lightly dredge in flour. He the oil in large casserole or Dutch oven over high heat and brown your lamb shanks on all sides and reserve.
  2. Allow the oil to cool a bit and then add your onions, celery, carrot and garlic and over medium heat, saute for 5 minutes. Now add the bay leaves, allspice and chopped rosemary leaves along and add the lamb shanks back into the cooking vessel.
  3. Pour the wine into the vessel and allow to simmer for a few minutes. Now dilute your tomato paste in the hot water and add into the mix along with your strained soaked navy beans. Mix well and bring to a boil. Add some salt and pepper and cover.
  4. Put the lid on your cooking vessel and place it in your pre-heated oven and cook for 1 hour.
  5. Taste and adjust seasoning with some salt and pepper. Add one more cup of water water and cover and return to the oven. Cook for one more hour.
  6. Serve each person with one lamb shank on a bed of beans, drizzle some extra-virgin olive oil, top with some fresh ground pepper and offer some good, crusty bread. Enjoy a bottle of Batistas Red Dry of  Monemvasia.

If you are not reading this post in a feed reader or at  http://kalofagas.ca then the site you are reading is illegally publishing copyrighted material. Contact me at truenorth67 AT gmail DOT COM. All recipes, text and photographs in this post are the original creations & property of the author.

© 2007-2009 Peter Minakis

© 2009 – 2010,
Peter Minakis

. All rights reserved.

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41 Comments for “Kapani Open Market and Braised Lamb Shanks With Beans”


The kapani Markets look like a perfect place to hang out Peter! Love the shanks…and beautiful with the beans (seriously, you can’t go wrong!).


great pictures – what a selection of olives, of fish, of everything. That braised dish looks perfect for the cooler weather. After reading your post, I realized that the Greek word for beans (fasolia) is quite similar to the Italian:fagioli.


That face of yours at Facebook scares me… ;D

I loved the simil between markets and amusement parks, he he. That’s how it feels :D.

That lamb shank will be cloned in my kitchen for sure chico! I’ve got a couple of them waiting in the freezer and I fell in love with your pictures.


Thessaloniki is a true culinary capital. I was impressed by the quality and quantity of produce as well and I think that it is definitely more part of everyday life than the market in Athens is. Your lamb looks delicious, perfect for the winter months to come.


Hello Peter!
Kati mou exeis zitisei, den to ksexnaw.
Alla mou kaike to laptop kai to exw dosei gia episkevi.
Tha mou to feroun avrio to vrady.
En to metaksei, prospathw na kanw douleia me ena pc me poly argi syndesi.
Avrio to vrady pou tha ksanaparw to laptopaki mou, tha sto steilw!
Kala na pernas, xairetismata apo olous mas!


I’m really enjoying all your photos from your trip… they are beautiful! Lamb shanks are on my to-do list for the upcoming colder weather… these look great.


I had dinner with some greek american friends and mentioned your blog to them. (I spelled the name b/c I couldn’t remember how you said this on your video from last year.) They are excited to read it.

These shanks are wonderful.


Been there many, many times. A favorite place. My family has a couple of apartments on Leoforos Nikis just East of Plateia Aristitelou. The market is a very short walk from there. You make me very nostalgic…..it’s been three years!


I’d lose myself in that market, especially with all the sausages and cheeses. You just don’t see that kind of food here in Kuching. We have the fresh meats and fish and local ingredients but not too much in the way of cured foods.


Braised lamb shanks ranks up there on my favorite meat/preparations. Yours is beautiful with the beans. I also loved seeing on the Friday Gazette the pretzel-bread-like treat sold on the streets in Greece. I remember the first time I saw it, I stopped dead in my tracks and bought one!


Screw disney world give me a food market any day. Of course my problem is I go broke almost instantly and heck I have the same problem in a meat market too in which I swear the registers start at 100 bucks.

For the record I am declaring summer dead when I woke up to mid 40s today and apparently tomorrow mid 30s.

Nicely done and awesome pics. Flipping drooling over here.


Mmmmm, more lamb! Peter you do lamb so well. I love braising meats this way and lamb is certainly one of my favorites.

Nice photos! Your lovely Greek market looks a little different from the St. Lawrence Market.


Love this post! Love food! Love the market. I stick to the local market but I’m motivated to go downtown more often. And I love braised lamb!!!


Cool slide show! I kept saying, “oh, oh!” at each photo! What a delight to have seen (and hopefully eaten) all that glorious seafood, meat, etc.. Your beans and lamb looks so delicious, too. Many, many YUMS!


You just know hot to serve up the best food with the highest ‘drool quotient’ Petah! Amazing! I love the way you equated the Kampani market to a kids trip to the amusement park…just my kind of day out. Love love ove this post.Great pictures too!



Gorgeous photos of the Thessaloniki Market – and your description of it is spot-on. Beautiful photos, too. But Where, O Where, can I find that smoked papika you mentioned? Tell me, and I’m there tomorrow!