In summer aubergines are cooked in dozens of ways in Greece. One of the most nourishing, delicious and rare dishes calls for sweet trahana. Trahana is an ancient food, a kind of rustic pasta made from flour or cracked wheat which is boiled down with milk until it forms a paste. It is then dried in the sun and grated into couscous-sized pellets, which are a wonderful addition to soups and stews. (A ‘sour’ version also exists made with soured milk or yogurt.)
I tried this combination for the first time in Kranidi and was most impressed. It was like a poem.
4 long aubergines; 1 large onion, chopped;1/2 cup olive oil; one tomato, finely chopped; I tablespoon tomato paste, 1 cup sweet trahana;1 cup water or broth; salt and pepper
Cut the aubergines in thick slices and soak them in plenty of water for an hour to leach out their bitterness. Pat dry with paper towels. Heat the oil in a large pan and saute the aubergines until lightly browned. Add the chopped onion and when it becomes translucent, add the rest of the ingredients – the tomato, tomato paste, and trahana. Stir well to coat with oil and then pour in the liquid. Simmer for about 45 minutes until the liquid is absorbed and the aubergines are tender.
I was given this recipe by the Laographic Workshop of the Municipality of Ermionida. This rare delicacy is well known in Crete, where it is made with sour trahana, ‘xinohondros’, instead of sweet.