Patakenjac is a delicious tomato, egg and vegetable savoury dish with humble origins connected to island philosophy – use what you have and make it work. Although is a traditional well-known dish on the Dalmatian island of Vis and often on the menu for island feasts, it is not well-known around Croatia.
We stumbled upon patakenjac, sometimes unjustly dubbed “fishless brodetto” in Gušti poja, a charming konoba situated in the middle of the island of Vis, in Podšpilje, a small and quiet village on the old road to Komiža, in whose vicinity you can find the island’s highest peak Hum, Titova špilja (Tito’s Cave), and Ilirian and Venetian remains.
If you ever had a problem with relaxing, that will instantly disappear in Gušti poja. One look at the placid surrounding fields soaked with afternoon sun or a cat taking a nap will make all the worries and troubles disappear.
But do not be fooled by its laid-back atmosphere, Gušti poja offers plenty of reasons to make you excited. Depending on the season, it offers tasty delights such as octopus goulash with polenta, tuna steak with courgettes, brudet, squid risotto or black risotto, fish pašticada with gnocchi, shrimp pasta and chilli pidoči (mussles).
But food isn’t the only thing that talks there, every detail tells a story starting from the charming rustic interior where everything contributes to the domestic feel, all the way to the menu and sugar wraps which introduce guests to poetry and local wisdom.
Patakenjac was probably not the favourite dish on the island but was popular, especially with those who worked in the fields due to its simplicity, the readiness of ingredients, and the fact that anything could be put into it. We loved their patakenjac so much that we asked Gušti poja for the recipe.
Patakenjac Recipe by Gušti poja
1 sweet pepper
4 cloves of garlic
oregano, basil, chili (to taste)
Chop the onion finely and fry it on olive oil.
After it becomes brown add chopped tomatoes, chopped pepper (paprika) and chopped sweet pepper, chili, basil, oregano, salt, pepper
After the salsa is cooked, add 2 eggs. Do not stir and keep the eggs whole.
If you don’t like pieces of vegetables on your plate you can cook them till they are completely soft and mash them.
Serve it with polenta, but other side dishes will work too.
In the old times, because they were poor, people would stir 1 or two eggs into the salsa to make it thicker. The look probably influenced the name.
Variations of patakenjac can be found on the tables around the world, like the Tunisian Shakshouka, a dish of eggs poached in a sauce of tomatoes, chili peppers, and onions, often spiced with cumin, popular in Middle East and North Africa, or the version without egg, galayet bandora, popular in Jordan and Israel.
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