Shakshouka

Let me start by being honest here. I’ve never eaten shakshouka before making it in my own kitchen. So of course, this recipe comes with the caveat that I’ve no idea what “authentic” shakshouka tastes like and that this is a mish-mash of several recipes, where I’ve just thrown together whatever (traditional ingredients) I thought would taste good. And does it taste gooood!

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Now that that’s out of the way, how cute is the name shakshouka? Like baby talk for abracadabra. Hyuk. I digress. Shakshouka is an Israeli (Tunisian?) breakfast dish with eggs cooked right in a spicy, thick tomato sauce. Now, what’s not to love about that! However, I served shakshouka as part of Hubs’ special birthday mezze (aha, now you know why Mediterranean food is all I could talk about this past week!).

If this is too much for breakfast, toss up a light side salad, warm a couple of pitas and you have a light yet satisfying evening meal. The best part about shakshouka is that you can tweak it to serve one or several people. It’s the perfect dish for community eating – get ready for friendly squabbles over who gets to wipe the skillet clean, though! It’s that good. SO GOOD. Did I mention how good this is? Go, go, make this NOW!

Heat up some olive oil in a skillet. Add a bunch of chopped red onion and sauté till soft. Okay, so a cast iron skillet works best (and looks so pretty!), but I don’t have one, so I made do with a small non-stick fry pan that I have. If you have a cast iron skillet (about 6-8”), use it!

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Mince up some garlic. Chuck it in the skillet along with some chilli flakes or paprika and roasted cumin powder. Swoon a little over the fragrant cumin powder. It’s mandatory!

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Throw in the chopped tomatoes and mix everything up. Lightly crush them using the back of a spoon or a masher.

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Cover and cook the tomatoes in their own juices till they’re soft and mushy. Ooh. Uncover and simmer till the sauce thickens. Stir it around a bit.Shakshouka-4

Crack the eggs over the sauce; a little symmetry never hurt anybody. Cover and let cook!Shakshouka-5

Once the yolks are set, uncover and baste the whites with some of the sauce so they’re moist and lovely. Garnish with dried parsley and serve with fresh, warm pitas! Just look at that would ya! This is what love must feel like.

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SHAKSHOUKA

Prep Time: 5 mins | Cook Time: 20 mins | Serves 2

2 large eggs
250g tomatoes (4-5 medium), chopped
1 medium red onion, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, minced
2 tsp chilli flakes or 1 tsp paprika
1 tsp roasted cumin powder (bhuna jeera powder)
2 tbsp olive oil
Fresh or dried parsley, to garnish

  • In a small skillet, heat 2 tbsp olive oil. Sauté 1 chopped red onion until soft and just starting to brown, about 2-3 minutes.
  • Add 2 minced cloves of garlic, 2 tsp chilli flakes and 1 tsp roasted cumin powder. Mix and cook, stirring occasionally, till the garlic is soft and loses its raw smell, about 1-2 minutes.
  • Tip in 250g chopped tomatoes, stir once to combine and lightly crush them using a potato masher or the back of a spoon. Cook covered till the tomatoes start to turn mushy. If the tomatoes aren’t juicy enough, add 2-3 tbsp lukewarm water.
  • Now, cook the tomatoes uncovered till they come to a light simmer and the sauce is slightly thickened. The cooking of the tomatoes should in all take about 8-10 minutes. Season the sauce with salt.
  • If you like your eggs well-done, crack them over the sauce now so that they’re evenly spaced on the skillet. Cover and cook for 2-3 minutes until the yolks are set. Baste the whites with some of the sauce to keep it from drying out.
  • If you like your eggs runnier, simmer the sauce for 2 more minutes, then crack the eggs, cover and cook for 1-1½ minutes till the yolk is set but still slightly wobbly. Baste the whites with some of the sauce to keep it from drying out.
  • Garnish with fresh or dried parsley and serve hot with warm pitas to sop up the sauce!

ADAPTATIONS & HACKS

  • Use a chili pepper or fresh jalapeño to add extra kick to the sauce. I didn’t use them only because I couldn’t get my hands on any! Deseed and chop the pepper up and sauté it along with the onion till soft and follow the rest of the recipe.
  • Add some cheese to fatten things up! Slightly salty cheeses like feta, ricotta or swiss chard would pair really well with shakshouka.
  • If you’re not a big fan of whole or runny yolks, gently break them up with a fork after cracking the eggs, so you’ll have kind of a fried egg thing going on in the pan! (I can hear all you shakshouka purists gasp!)
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