Vazania, as they are called in the Cypriot dialect, (in Greece they are called melitzanes), is a simple dish made withe fried eggplants and potatoes, which are cooked, together in a tomato sauce, with garlic and onions, to make them “giahni” (stewed). This vegan dish, uses only a few humble ingredients, so it’s not only frugal but also very delicious.
Giahni, also called “ladera”, meaning cooked in olive oil dishes, are usually accompanied by feta and lots of crusty bread to mop up that delicious sauce.
My mother, as well as all other Cypriot women, would fry the potatoes and eggplants in a lot of oil and they would then sauté the onion in the oil and add fresh ripe tomatoes and tomato paste, as well as all the other ingredients, in the frying pan to make the sauce, which they would then pour this sauce on top of the potatoes and eggplants to cook them on the stove top.
That was so delicious but too oily and fattening so I have modified this recipe from the original Cypriot recipe, in order to make it healthier and lighter.
The eggplants I used are called “Tsakonikes” in Greek and they are named after the area in Peloponnese where they are produced. I love these eggplants as they are not bitter and therefore they do not have to be soaked in water with salt to remove the bitterness. However, any variety of eggplants can be used.
As I did not know what this type is called in English, I google searched it and they look like the Japanese Eggplants, but as I’ve never tried the Japanese I cannot be sure if they are the same ones.
When I had a cooking class with a Japanese lady, we were making “moussakas“, using the same eggplants. When I asked her if these are Japanese eggplants, she says that these eggplants to not exist in Japan!
Eggplants are seasonal and cost about 1 Euro a kilo, potatoes cost around 0.65 to 0.70 cents a kilo, ripe tomatoes cost around 0,60 cents, and adding up the cost of olive oil, this light and very tasty dish does not cost more than five Euros.
Considering that this light and tasty dish definitely costs less than 10 dollars, even if we add the cost of feta and bread, I am submitting this recipe to Frugal Fridays, created by Jerry and co-hosted by Ben, of What’s Cooking.
How to remove bitterness from Eggplants
Greek eggplants and new varieties in general, are not bitter, but depending on the variety you will be using, you may need to remove the bitterness first.
Cut off the stalk, cut them into slices, sprinkle liberally with salt and leave them for 20 minutes to remove much of the bitterness and draw out some moisture. This way they will not absorb a lot of oil when fried.
Wash to remove the salt and drain on kitchen paper before cooking.
Vazania (melitzanes) giahni (stewed eggplants)
Preparation time: 20 minutes
Cooking time: 45 minutes
- 1 kilo (2.20 lbs) – about 4 medium eggplants (aubergines)
- 3 medium potatoes
- 1/3 cup of olive oil
- 1 big onion, cut into slices
- 5 ripe tomatoes (or 1 tin 500 grams – 1.10 lbs whole tomatoes, blended with 1 tbsp tomato paste
- 3 – 5 cloves garlic, cut into small slices
- 1 cup parsley, finely chopped
- 1 tsp salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1 cup water
- Wash the eggplants and set aside to drain. Do not peel them yet as they will oxidize, unless you put them in water.
- Peel and wash the potatoes and cut them into 1 cm slices.
- In a food processor puree the tomatoes with the tomato paste.
- Heat ½ the olive oil in a sautéing pan and sauté the potatoes on both sides until lightly browned. While the potatoes are being sautéed, remove their stalks and cut them into 2 or 3 slices, make a slit and put a piece of garlic in each.
- Remove potatoes and add 2 tbsp oil and sauté the eggplants on both sides. Remove the eggplants, add the remaining oil and sauté the onion until translucent. Add the tomatoes, water, salt, pepper and parsley and mix.
- Put the eggplants and potatoes in a pot and pour the sauce on top.
- Bring to boil, lower heat and simmer until potatoes are soft and the sauce is thick.
- Serve with feta and crunchy bread.
Vazania, is the name of eggplants in the Cypriot dialect, (in Greece they are called melitzanes), which are fried together with potatoes and stewed, to make them giahni, which is a delicious vegan and frugal dish. Any variety of eggplants can be used.
Vazania, is the name of eggplants in the Cypriot dialect, (in Greece they are called melitzanes), which are fried together with potatoes and stewed, to make them giahni, which is a delicious vegan and frugal dish.
Any variety of eggplants can be used.
As the proverb says, a picture is worth a thousand words!
This and many more recipes are included in my cookbook Mint, Cinnamon & Blossom Water, Flavours of Cyprus, Kopiaste or on Volume 1 of the digital cookbook.
You can also find more Greek recipes in my cookbook «More Than A Greek Salad».
Both cookbooks are available on all Amazon stores. Read more here.
Other related Recipes:
Kopiaste and Kali Orexi,