I am a sucker for all Mediterranean, Middle Eastern, East African, Indian, Thai, Burmese recipes – basically the recipes rich in use of spices and herbs. So, once while browsing on the internet when I came across this Israeli recipe for eggs – Shakhuka and I knew I would love it. I wanted to try it at a restaurant before I took a stab at making it at home but never got a chance. So, here is my experiment with the recipe –
- Tomatoes – 6 medium, chopped
- Red bell pepper – 1 large, chopped
- Red onion – 1 medium, chopped
- Garlic – 1 clove, minced/crushed
- Tomato paste – 2 tbsp
- Olive oil – 2 tbsp
- Chili powder – 1 tsp (or to taste)
- Cumin powder – 2 tsp
- Salt and pepper – to taste
- Eggs – 4 medium/large
- Coriander – to garnish
- Bread – 1 loaf, French or wholemeal with grains
- Knife and chopping board
- Shallow pan/skillet
- Plates and bowls to serve
- In the skillet heat the olive oil on medium heat. Once the oil is hot enough add the onions to it and cook for 2 minutes and then add the garlic and cook for a minute.
- Add the red bell pepper and cook for 3-4 minutes or until the pepper is just cooked and still has a crunch.
- Add the tomatoes, tomato paste and the spices and let it cook for 5-7 minutes. Let the mixture thicken up. This would be a good point to taste the sauce and adjust the spices to your flavor.
- To add the eggs – make 4 wells in the pan with your sptuala, one for each egg (imagine dividing the pan into 4 quadrants) and crack the eggs onto these wells. You might have to remake the remaining wells as you keep adding the eggs. Make sure the eggs are evenly spaced to ensure even cooking.
- At this point you can either cover the pan and let the eggs cook for 10-15 minutes, depending on how runny you want your eggs to be (less for runny and more for firmly set eggs) or you can pop the pan in the oven heated to 200 °C for around 10 minutes. Check the eggs by feeling them with a spatula or the blunt edge of the knife. If they aren’t as firm as you want heat more for 2 minutes at a time until you have them at the firmness you desire.
- Serve up the shakshuka – one egg and a lot of sauce and bread. Garnish with coriander.
- The aim here is to let the eggs cook with the gravy and kind of have a quiche but with the eggs separate from the rest of the ingredients.
- I have taste buds that have been seasoned with Indian spices – which make it difficult for me to taste the difference between cayenne, paprika and regular chili powder. But if you can taste the difference – go ahead and experiment with the 3.
- The store brought tomato puree I had was a little sweet for my taste so next time I might skip it and just use tomatoes and let the mixture thicken enough before adding eggs.
- Choice of bread depends on personal preference – you can choose the bread you prefer with gravy based foods.
- Use parsley instead of coriander if you like.
- This recipe has the ‘comfort food category’ potential and is very easy to experiment with.