Some things just don’t translate well from Greek to English, and τσικ τσικ (which phonetically translates to Tsik Tsik) is one of those things. We don’t know where this term originated; in fact, for the longest time we thought that this was our paternal grandmother’s own inventive way of referring to a dish which is a medley of whatever vegetables you have lying around, and some eggs. But we were wrong; it seems that around Messinia (which is where our parents are from), many people refer to this easy, summer meal as tsik tsik.
This recipe is a favourite of our dad’s, probably because it was a favourite of his own mother’s. Γιαγιά Ελένη (Yiayia Eleni) made tsik tsik often for her family, with vegetables from the garden, and eggs straight from the chicken coop. This is an old-time, humble dish and there are likely similar versions found across various regions of Greece, perhaps going by less interesting names. Whatever you call it, and wherever you find it, tsik tsik was, and still is, an easy way to get a meal on the table, particularly in the summer when zucchini and eggplant are at their peak. More importantly than tsik tsik’s ease however, we love watching our dad make it, and eat it. We are sure that when he does, he remembers his youth, his homeland, and his mom.
There are so many ways to change up your tsik tsik, and you can easily play around with the ratios of vegetables. So, for instance, in the recipe listed below, there is more eggplant than there is zucchini. Part of that is cook preference, but another part is simply because when we cooked this meal with our dad, he happened to have more eggplant than zucchini available (probably because we had dipped into his zucchini stash to make zucchini chips).
We know that many recipes recommend doing things to eggplant before you cook with them, to take away their sometimes bitter taste. All we can tell you is that the eggplant used in this recipe was washed, chopped, and used. No fuss, no muss…and it was perfectly delicious. Maybe there is sometimes much eggplant to-do, for nothing.
Our dad used homemade tomato sauce in this recipe. If you happen to have some, great. If you don’t, you can take some extra tomatoes (meaning, more than the 2 which will be diced to be added to your pan), peel them, remove the seeds and grate them. Grate enough tomatoes to end up with 2/3 cup, and use this instead of the tomato sauce. If you need information on how to peel and seed tomatoes, click here.
Tsik tsik makes a fantastic lunch or supper. Pair it with some nice cheese, some bread, and a few olives and you will have a meal which is nutritious, delicious, easy and wholesome.
Mia Kouppa: Tsik Tsik (Summer vegetables with egg)
- 2 heaping cups of zucchini chunks (about 1 inch in size)
- 3 heaping cups of eggplant chunks (about 1 inch in size)
- 3 medium sized potatoes, peeled and diced into small chunks
- 1/2 cup vegetable oil
- 1/3 cup Greek olive oil
- 2 medium sized, vine-ripened tomatoes, cut into small dice
- 1/4 cup water
- 2/3 cup tomato sauce or grated peeled and seeded tomatoes
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 3 large eggs
- After washing both the zucchini and the eggplant, cut them into 1 inch large chunks. Do not peel these vegetables.
- In a large frying pan, add the vegetable oil and the olive oil. Immediately add the zucchini and eggplant, and the potatoes. Cook over medium heat, covered for approximately 5 minutes.
- Add the diced tomatoes, the water and the tomato sauce or tomato juice. Add the salt and pepper. Mix well, cover and cook for 25 minutes over medium heat, stirring occasionally. If the vegetables appear too dry, add a bit more water.
- In a small bowl, whisk together the eggs. Pour them evenly over the vegetable mixture. Using a spatula, cut through the vegetables and wiggle them around a bit so that the egg falls to the bottom of the pan and cooks. Cook for about 5 minutes over medium heat, or until egg is cooked. Enjoy!