Guide to SKOPJE

Fast, easy, traditional: potatoes and green tomatoes puree

If you love watching cooking channels, you must have noticed that their most popular shows are the ones presenting how to prepare quick, easy and simple meals with a few ingredients. It is understandable. Modern life has become fast and busy with too little time to carry out obligations, let alone for relaxation. Since food is a reflection of culture and everyday life, our meals have become so too –they are fast and simple.  But, when it comes to the culture of fast food our tradition has much to offer.

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We usually brag with our traditional rich tasting specialties. If you go to an ethnic restaurant, you will see a variety of dishes which took hours to prepare, and a lot of money, of course. In the past, such food was only seen for holidays, especially in winter when there was no work in the fields. It was not for everyone, only for the wealthiest families. Now we see the idyllic images of old villages, but the reality was far from the daily struggle in the past, when poverty was a constant companion in life.

For example, what could they do during harvest, when our ancestors had no time to cook, nor had much left to eat? They harvested by hand, usually invited many people to help, and it all had to be completed in a really short time. One of the characteristic dishes of that time was mashed potatoes with green tomatoes; very popular in the northeastern part of Macedonia, in the villages around Kriva Palanka and Kratovo. This is an amazingly simple recipe. One kilogram of potatoes is boiled with one or two green tomatoes or two kilograms of potatoes with two or three large green tomatoes. When people did not have any greenhouses their tomatoes ripened in August, so in July only the green ones were available.


Peel the tomatoes and crush them together with the potatoes to get a fine mixture. Then chop two or three onions, add to the mixture and pour hot cooking oil on top. Add salt, and stir it again.

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What are the advantages of this dish? You can prepare it really quickly. It takes almost the same time to make some puree for a family lunch and for a lot of people. The digestion takes shorter than preparation, no matter if it was one or five kilograms of potatoes. During harvest season there had to be a lot of people to finish the job and they needed to eat well. It is a fast and easy recipe for a light nutritious meal. People could continue working after they’ve had this meal. Heavy foods would create problems with indigestion and the villagers needed to be physically active. Nowadays, this puree is equally tasty as a main meal, or a side dish at a rich table.


Goce Trpkovski