I’ve always been intrigued by Eastern Europe, so when Ingham’s asked me to create a recipe inspired by one of their holiday destinations, I thought I’d give one of the more unusual locations a try. Food from Eastern Europe has a reputation for being heavy and meaty, so this jota is a great vegetarian alternative for those wanting to experience some lighter Slovenian cuisine at home! Jota is a delicious stew, traditionally made with potatoes, turnips, sauerkraut and bacon. This version skips the bacon, and adds sweet smoked paprika to add the essential smokey ness. The tomato base makes this stew surprisingly light, and the fresh dill and soured cream makes jota an all year round classic.
350g potatoes, peeled and chopped into 2 cm chunks
3 small turnips, peeled and chopped into 2cm chunks
400g sauerkraut, drained and rinsed
1 x 400g tin kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 white onion, finely chopped
5 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 bay leaves
1 heaped tsp caraway seeds
2 tsp sweet smoked paprika
1 tbsp plain flour
4 tbsp passata
750ml vegetable stock
2 tbsp olive oil
salt (I used smoked salt) and pepper to season
finely chopped dill to garnish
Crusty bread and butter
Heat the oil in a large saucepan on a medium heat, when the oil is shimmering and hot, add the onions. Cook for 10 minutes until translucent, but not too browned. Add the flour and stir continuously until all the flour is incorporated. Add the passata and stir until the onions, flour and passata create a thick pasta. Add the sweet smoked paprika and stir to combine. Then add the vegetable stock and turn down the heat to low.
Let the base of the stew simmer on a low heat, then, using a large frying pan, heat the remaining oil on a medium heat. When the oil is hot, add the garlic, caraway seeds, potato, sauerkraut and turnip. Pan fry for 5 minutes until the garlic and caraway are fragrant, but the garlic isn’t browning too much.
Add the contents of the frying pan to the saucepan, stirring to combine. Put the lid on the saucepan and simmer for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, remove the lid of the saucepan and add the kidney beans, then, still with the lid off, cook the stew for a further 10-15 minutes. If the sauce is too thick, add a little bit of water to loosen it.
Season with salt and pepper, I actually used some smoked salt to give the stew a really great smokey flavour, but ordinary sea salt will also do the job! I also used plenty of pepper. Serve topped with dill and soured cream, and some crusty bread with butter.