Shakshuka

Flavour of the moment: Chilli, or more precisely harissa paste which is a Tunisian chilli paste. My top tip for harissa is freezing the remainder of the can into ice cubes so that it doesn’t go off before you use it all. It packs quite a punch so with each ice cube containing about half a tablespoon they are the perfect size for popping into dishes.

This dish was introduced to me by my friend Ryan when challenged with inviting me round for dinner but it having to be healthy, he was always a champ like that and cooked some absolute gems, this one is our old favourite though. I came back home to my student house at the time and raved about it to my housemate, who being Jewish was already familiar with this dish and has been in our repertoire ever since. It was this dish that spurred my desire to own Ottolenghi’s Jerusalem and my lovely housemate bought it for me as a finishing uni gift with the comment ‘It is page 66’, the page for, yep you guessed it, the shakshuka recipe. I admit that it is a pretty tough dish to photograph but you can just about make out the two eggs hiding in there. David Lebovitz was much more successful a photographing the dish and the photos in Ottolenghi’s books are particularly gorgeous.

shakshuka

This recipe is from Jerusalem (very slightly adapted) and can also be found online, it serves 2 -4.

Ingredients:

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp of harissa
  • 2 tsp of tomato purée
  • 2 large peppers, diced
  • 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp of cumin
  • 2 tins of chopped tomatoes (800g in total, or fresh tomatoes if you prefer)
  • 4 free range eggs (plus four egg yolks but I omit these for ease and an unwillingness for endless meringue)
  • Plain yogurt to serve (optional)
  • Salt, to taste

Method:

  1. Heat the oil in a large frying pan (I prefer a wok or saucepan to allow some depth) and add the harissa, purée, garlic, peppers, cumin and salt to taste (1/2 a tsp or so).
  2. Cook on a medium heat until the peppers soften, 5-10 minutes, stirring to mix the spices and flavours.
  3. Add the tomatoes and having brought the mixture to a gentle boil, reduce the heat and simmer, cook for ten minutes until the sauce starts to thicken.
  4. Make 4 dips (8 if using yolks) in the sauce and break the eggs, one into each dip and then simmer for 8 – 10 minutes. You can cover the pan at this point if you want to speed up the cooking of the eggs. Ideally you want the egg whites cooked but the yolks still runny.
  5. Remove from the heat and leave it to settle for a couple of minutes.
  6. Serve with plain yogurt.

This dish is so packed full of flavour and has quite the kick to it. If you aren’t so good with spice then halve (or even quarter)  the amount of harissa and taste the dish to see if you need to add any more. This is a great dish if entertaining and to please both vegetarians and meat eaters because it is hard to feel hard done by with such a tasty and filling dish that I doubt they’d even notice there was no meat in it.

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