“Bećar is the word for bachelor in northern Serbia, and there are many tales as to how this dish got its name: it was something a single man could make easily after a night out; or perhaps it was a typical dinner of the men who used to tend fields of summer produce. However it came about, if you ever look at a recipe and dismiss it based on the simplicity of the ingredient list, then this is one of the best examples I can think of to show you how much can be achieved with careful cooking. These slow-cooked peppers are so intensely sweet, I guarantee they’ll stop you in your tracks. You’ll often find different proteins cooked amongst the peppers – pork being a popular choice, chicken and eggs, too – but during times of fasting they are cooked straight up. And to be honest, you don’t miss the meat at all. This is one of the most versatile dishes to have a stash of in your fridge while fasting. ”
Peel and finely slice the onions and garlic. Halve the peppers, remove and discard the core and seeds, and cut into even sized pieces, around 2–3cm. Score a cross in the top of the tomatoes, place in a heatproof bowl (or pan) and cover with boiling water. Leave for a minute or two, until the skin starts to come away from the flesh, and drain. Peel the tomatoes and then roughly slice or chop the flesh.
Place a wide flameproof casserole on a medium heat, drizzle in the sunflower oil and add all the ingredients. Season generously, with a teaspoon each of salt and pepper, and start to fry. After 10 minutes, reduce the heat to low and fry for around 1 ½ – 2 hours. Stir occasionally, until you have a thick, rich and meltingly soft stew. Taste and tweak the seasoning as necessary, then serve, scattered with chopped parsley, if you like.