Giahni is a traditional Greek way of cooking, loved by most Greeks. In giahni, seasonal vegetables are slowly cooked in olive oil and lemon or tomato. The result is a comforting, mellow dish so versatile that can be served as a main or side, and eaten hot, at room temperature or cold.
For these tomato-based dishes, some use crushed tomatoes or tomato passata, others use tomato puree diluted in water, or both. We’re using both. The passata offers a lush sauce, while the paste adds depth to this dish. Today we are making potatoes, patates giahni, as it’s called. This recipe is said to have been popular amongst the monks in the Greek church. In our adaptation of the classic recipe, we added a little honey to balance the natural acidity of the tomatoes. And we are very keen to try molasses next time!
Check out our other traditional Greek recipes in this blog, and let’s get cooking!
Serves 2 as a side
2 potatoes (500g)
1 large onion (or 2 medium)
8 tbsp olive oil, divided
2 cloves garlic
1 tomato passata (680ml) or 3-4 tomatoes, crushed
1 tsp tomato puree in 200ml 1 cup warm water
1 tsp honey (we used wild thyme honey)
2 bay leaves
a few pinches of cinnamon
Peel and cut the potatoes in big wedges and place in a bowl with cold water.
Cut the onion in half moons and finely slice the garlic.
Place 4 tbsp of olive oil in a deep frying pan or wide casserole over medium-low heat. Once the olive oil warms up, add the onions and cook until golden and caramelised, around 7 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for another minute.
Drain the potatoes and pat dry. Add the potatoes and season with salt and pepper. Cook for a couple of minutes until they are covered in oil.
In a large mug add the warm water, tomato paste and honey. Stir well until the tomato paste dissolves.
Return to your pan and add the tomato passata, water with tomato paste, bay leaves and the remaining olive oil. Season with cinnamon, salt and pepper and gently stir everything together. The potatoes should be just covered. Add more water if needed.
Cover and cook for half an hour, shaking the pan so that the potatoes don’t stick at the bottom. Lower the heat to medium, uncover and cook for another half an hour, until the potatoes are tender and the tomato is thickened.
Serve with more olive oil and feta cheese.