Along with the wheat grain, the potato plays a very prominent role in Ukrainian cooking. Since my youth, I am in love with one of our traditional potato based dishes called deruny. Originally it’s not an Ukrainian, but a Belorussian dish (who borrowed it in their own turn from traditional German cooking). In East European countries, this dish has many names, but almost all of them refer to the state of potato (just before actually cooking). Deruny, dranyky or tertuhy means “mashed”. This dish has a lot of recipes, but I am going to share with you my family’s one.
I think of cumin and coriander as ying and yang, two different but intertwined spices. The one brings out the best in the other. This is what makes the North African chermoula so very irresistible. Here, the addition of fresh herbs ensures that this spicy, zesty sauce raises the humble potato to new heights. More to the point, I thought of this potato dish as a North African cousin to the Spanish patatas bravas.
In 1492, when King Boabdil of Granada, the last of the Nasrid rulers, was ousted by the Catholic Monarchs of Spain, he fled south, stopping briefly in the Valle de Lecrín, before fleeing to Fez. Fed by the waters from the Sierra Nevada that dominate the skyline, the Lecrín Valley is rich in citrus, olive and almond groves. This tapenade combines all three flavours in equal balance, and so I think of it as a homage to this truly beautiful part of the world.