Image by Jaroslaw Ceborski via Unsplash
In recent months, I’ve lost count of the number of images of a dish called “Shakshuka” in my Instagram and Facebook feeds. I had no idea what this exotic food was or how it tasted, but I figured that since it is apparently all the rage, it must be something special. I took to the web to see if I could get to the bottom of what all the fuss is about, and as is my habit, find a delicious looking recipe and try that sucker out. The proof is always in the cookin’! The results were mind-bendingly delicious. What looks like a simple, Middle-Eastern dish of eggs poached in tomato sauce has rich, deep flavours that will wow your crew. Best yet, you can easily serve it for breakfast or dinner, making it extremely versatile. I thought I’d share a recipe that I’ve combined and adapted from a few I found online, so get yourself some sturdy cookware (cast-iron skillet works best) and prepare yourself for a stunning, Mediterranean treat!
What You Will Need:
- 3 Eggs
- 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1 small or ½ large red onion, finely diced
- 2 large cloves of garlic, finely chopped
- 1 large red bell pepper, finely diced
- 2-3 finely chopped, ripe tomatoes
- 2 tsp sweet paprika
- ½ tsp smoked paprika (this gives the dish a delightful, smoky flavor, but can be left out if you can’t find it)
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 1 large bay leaf
- 1 tbsp of Cumin
- 1 fresh jalapeno or other spicy chili (reduce or eliminate if you wish, but I like it hot!)
- Salt and ground black pepper to taste
- 1 tbsp tomato paste
- 1 tsp raw sugar
- 2 tbsp fresh flat-leaf parsley (for garnish)
- Sauté the onions and garlic with the bay leaf on medium heat soft and translucent.
- Add the tomatoes and peppers, reduce heat to medium-low and continue sautéing for 10-15 minutes, stirring regularly.
- Add the remaining spices, sugar and chili (if you’re using) and continue stirring frequently for another 15 minutes. The sugar will help to cut the acidity of the tomatoes, so give it a taste and add more if required.
- Continue stirring regularly, until the liquid has reduced considerably and the vegetables have completely broken down and are starting to take on a thicker, slightly paste-like consistency.
- Using a cooking spoon, form 3 wells in the sauce in which to deposit your eggs. Drop each egg in gently, being extra careful not to break the yolk as this will spoil the look of the dish.
- From this point on, you won’t be able to stir anymore, so it is critical to ensure that the bottom does not burn while the eggs are cooking through. Your best option is to cook the eggs until they are white, but still runny on top, then transfer the skillet to the broiler until they are firm. Alternatively, cover the pan immediately after the eggs are in, and cook on the lowest possible heat until hardened.
- Sprinkle fresh parsley over the top and serve with a warm, crusty bread. A good sourdough is perfect, or perhaps try a delicious middle-eastern pita bread toasted to perfection.
If you’re short on time, you can substitute two cans of diced tomatoes, or if you’re really in a pinch, you can use some store-bought tomato sauce straight from the bottle. You’ll lose that incredible, fresh flavour but will still get an authentic result. Whatever the case, I guarantee you will love this new addition to your repertoire!