Countryside comfort direct from western Crete. This recipe uses trahana, a fermented and dried mixture of grains and dairy found in Greek and Middle Eastern cuisine.
- ½ cup extra virgin Greek olive oil, plus extra to serve
- 1 large onion, coarsely chopped
- 3 Italian or Sicilian eggplants, trimmed and cut into 4 cm chunks or cubes
- 2 potatoes, peeled and cut into cubes slightly smaller than the eggplant pieces
- ⅔ cup dry white wine
- 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 3 tomatoes, grated
- salt, to taste
- 3 tbsp chopped fresh thyme
- 2 tbsp each of chopped fresh parsley and mint
- 1 cup sour trahana or Cretan xinohontros (see Note)
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
1. Heat the olive oil in a wide saucepan over medium heat. Add the onions and cook, stirring, until soft, about 10 minutes. Add the eggplant pieces and stir gently for two minutes. Add the potatoes and stir.
2. Pour in the wine. As soon as it steams up, add the garlic cloves and tomatoes. Then, in the following order, season the contents of the pot: sprinkle in salt, then add the thyme, parsley and mint. Simmer for 10-15 minutes, or until the vegetables are about halfway cooked.
3. Add the trahana and cook for another 10 minutes or so, until the trahana is tender. If the trahana needs to cook a bit longer, add an additional cup of water. Remove from heat, drizzle with additional olive oil, and serve.
• Trahana is a pebble-like grain made with either semolina, wheat flour or bulgur mixed with yoghurt, buttermilk or milk and dried. It is available from Greek groceries and online.