A simple but delicious local recipe that was very popular during times of hardship (such as the occupation) as all the ingredients required were easy to be had. Like all recipes using cheap ingredients associated with hard times, it fell out of fashion.
According to a story told locally, a dinner guest at at a house in Velanidia kept stirring his food, expecting to find pieces of hare underneath the onions in the dish he was served. The food was so delicious that he couldn’t believe it had been cooked without meat.
You will need:
2 kilos Vatika onions
4-5 fresh tomatoes or a tin of peeled tomatoes
Peel the onions and cut into large pieces. If small, leave them whole. Put enough oil in a saucepan to cover the bottom well and add the onions. Soften them over a low heat, then add the tomatoes, salt, pepper and cumin. (In Vatika, the traditional Greek stifado was always flavoured with cumin, not as in other regions with rosemary, which we here associate with fried fish).
Stir for a short time, then add a little water, preferably hot. Cover the saucepan, lower the heat right down and let simmer. Check frequently to make sure it doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan, stirring carefully if necessary. The dish is ready when most of the liquid, apart from the oil, has been absorbed.
This recipe is equally delicious when cooked in the oven with exactly the same ingredients. Then it is known as onions plaki; An interesting variation of this is to add a few chunks of pumpkin half-way through the cooking time.