My love for this dish is big. Shakshuka is the Arabic/Turkish answer to eggs-in-tomato-sauce, a well known dish all over the world. From Mexico to Tunisia, from India to Turkey, from Egypt to Spain; many people on this planet cook and eat their own version of Shashuka. It’s easy, it’s cheap (well, if you skip the saffron), it’s super tasty, smells divine while cooking, and there’s a good chance most of the ingredients you need can be found in one’s kitchen pantry. You can add fresh vegetables and herbs as I did, but with tinned goodies and dried herbs, or chilli flakes instead of the fresh ones, you can do the same thing. That makes this recipe also perfect to prepare on a day you don’t feel like going out for groceries, but do feel like eat something homemade and comfy.
I remember the first time I ate Shakshuka. Years ago, it was a rainy summer’s day in London. By that time I worked in a hotel bar in Chelsea for a work placement (internship) for the Hotel School. I was wandering around the city and found this cheap, tiny Arabic-style restaurant near Portobello Road (Notting Hill), where I ordered their speciality; Shakshuka. I was overwhelmed with flavours and taste! And many years later, in my home kitchen in Franschhoek, I decided to make it myself. Since I made it once I made it more often and it’s a favourite in our house!
Today I’ll share my recipe for shashuka with you. It does help if you have already a batch of always-great-to-stock-in-freezer-homemade-tomato-sauce (recipe you’ll find here), but you can also easily make it without a cheaty stash, it will just take you a bit longer then. The recipe below is the full recipe, in case you’ll have some great tomato sauce in your freezer, you can leave (or half) ingredients such as onion, garlic, chilli, tomato, thyme, sugar, herbs etc.
For two people (breakfast, lunch or dinner – whatever your prefer)
4 free range eggs
1 big onion, finely chopped
2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped or crushed
1 red and 1 yellow pepper, cut in thin stripes or small cubes
1-2 red hot chilli peppers, finely chopped (seeds removed if you prefer so)
2-3 tablespoons fresh Italian parsley, only the leaves, chopped
3 sprigs of thyme, finely chopped
2 dried bay leaves
150 gram feta, mozzarella, halloumi, cheddar or other cheese you like
¼ Chorizo sausage, cut in slices or small cubes (leave this for vegetarian option)
800 gram (2 tins) chopped tomatoes (good ones from Italy, look for ‘Pomodori’ or ‘San Marzano’)
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon roasted and grounded cumin seeds
1 teaspoon roasted and grounded coriander seeds
0,5 teaspoon sprigs of saffron
0,5 teaspoon cayenne pepper or chilli pepper
2-3 table spoons of olive oil
pinch of salt
grounded black pepper
2 table spoons of fresh herbs for the finish (can be coriander, parsley or basil)
crisp farm-style bread such as baguette/ciabatta, or fresh pita bread
1. Dry roast and ground your cumin and coriander seeds in a small roasting pan. Put aside. Use the same pan if you prefer to shortly fry (or grill) your slices of Chorizo, feta or halloumi. This step is optional, you can also add Chorizo or cheese as they are, without frying/grilling them first. Set aside.
2. Put a bigger sauté pan (oven resistant if you have) on your stove on medium heat with a few tablespoons of olive oil in and start to sauté the onion for about 5 minutes, make the onion sweat but don’t colour. Add the red and yellow pepper, chilli, garlic, bay leaves and thyme and fry over medium heat for about 10 minutes. Add the tomatoes (tinned or fresh), together with the saffron, the sugar, roasted and grounded cumin and coriander seeds, pinch of cayenne pepper, salt and black pepper. Also add the freshly chopped parsley, but save some for garnishing (or use other fresh herbs such ad basil or coriander for garnishing – what you prefer)
In case you’d like to add extra veggies, such as asparagus, chickpeas, tinned beans, green peas, shortly pre-boiled potatoes, carrots or artichokes; this is the time to do so. For me this is not necessary, I rather prepare a side salad with the dish if I feel like more greens.
3. Leave the dish to simmer over low heat for about 5-10 minutes. Add chorizo, stir it in so it can soak up all the flavours. Also add your feta, cheddar, mozzarella, halloumi or other cheese of your preference.
4. Make four little holes in the sauce and break the eggs in, seasoning them directly with some salt and pepper. Now you can finish this dish in two (or actually three) ways: First is put the lid on the pan, and cook/poach the eggs in the sauce for about 7-12 minutes (depending on how big your eggs are, how hot the stove, how warm your pan) until the egg-white is set but the yolks still runny. The second option, only if your pan is oven-resistant, (I Love my Creuset!) is to put the whole pan for about 10-12 minutes in your preheated 180º Celsius oven, with the eggs in their little holes, until the egg-white is set but the yolks still runny. You can start with a lid on the pan and finish without, just play with it. A third option is is to pre-poach your eggs to your preference (soft, medium or hard), place them in ice water and then on kitchen paper. And add them the very last minutes on the stove in the 4 holes just to warm up again. This third option is for control freaks, or just for good-egg-poachers.
5. Once you are happy with the eggs, take off the fire or out of the oven and finish your dish with fresh herbs such as parsley, basil or coriander leaves, add more pepper, seasalt or paprika/cayenne to your taste and serve the dish with crisp bread. Bon Appetit!Do you like this dish but do you miss some fresh vegetables? You can change the tinned tomatoes for fresh ones, if you’d like! I always find it difficult to find the perfect sweet fresh tomatoes, especially if they are out of season. So therefore I am a big fan of tinned Italian tomatoes.
Other healthier option: Add veggies like green peas, artichokes, beans, carrot or asparagus tips.