This is definitely a “cook’s” recipe, not a chef’s recipe, and it’s one of my favourite things to eat. My late grandmother Lusia used to make it – with her outstanding home-grown potatoes, courgettes and tomatoes – and also my mum.
Prep time: 20 minutes
Cooking time: 30 minutes
- 3 medium potatoes
- 50g plain flour
- 4 tbsp rapeseed oil (or any vegetable oil), plus extra if needed
- 2-3 medium courgettes (or 1 marrow), sliced into ½ cm rounds
- 3 banana shallots or onions, peeled and thinly sliced
- 2 tbsp tomato purée
- 800g ripe tomatoes, skins removed and flesh grated (or 2x400g tins of chopped tomatoes)
- 2-4 tbsp full fat creme fraiche
- 1 large garlic clove, peeled and finely grated
- Fresh dill, to serve
- Bread and butter, to serve (optional)
- My mum peels the potatoes, but I don’t bother. Slice them into thinnish circles, or semicircles if they are quite big. Season the flour with salt and pepper in a bowl. Heat the oil in a large cast-iron pan or a deep frying pan over a medium heat, and dust the potato slices in the seasoned flour.
- Fry the potatoes in the hot oil in batches until all are brown on at least one side. You want to get some colour on them here and there but they don’t have to be completely cooked through. Add some more oil if the pan becomes dry. Remove the fried potatoes to a plate and set aside.
- Scrape the bottom of the pan to remove any potato or flour that got stuck to it, add some more oil if needed, then fry the courgette in batches until it is browned here and there. Remove to the plate with the potatoes.
- Add more oil once again, if needed, and tip in the shallots (or onions). Cook over a medium-low heat for 10 minutes, adding a splash of water every now and then to deglaze the shallots and scraping at the bottom of the pan. You want them to soften and colour nicely – we’re not making French onion soup here, so no need for deep caramelisation. Then add the tomato purée and cook off for a couple of minutes.
- Add the fresh or tinned tomatoes and give it all a stir. Then add the creme fraiche and mix again. The sauce will be a dusty rose pink and smell delicious.
- Add the potatoes and courgettes to the sauce, in layers if you can. Cook over a low heat with the lid halfway on, for about 20-30 minutes or until the potatoes are cooked through.
- Add the garlic to the pot, gently swirling it into the sauce, for the last five minutes of cooking.
- You can absolutely eat this dish hot with lots of dill thrown on top, but it is so delicious when eaten only warm or at room temperature with a big chunk of crusty bread.
Olia Hercules is the author of Mamushka, Kaukasis: The Cookbook and Summer Kitchens; this recipe is taken from The Female Chef by Clare Finney (£28, Hoxton Mini Press)