A lovely option for a big, chaotic brunch or for a quiet summer supper for two, Shakshuka is an interesting and delicious egg dish with an even more intriguing lineage – some writers call it Turkish or Tunisian; others state that it’s an Israeli speciality. But what is especially interesting about the dish is that it seems to have come from the Middle East to our shores by way of Australia, where it has pretty much become the national brunch dish in what is swiftly becoming the most exciting food culture in the world – and that’s me saying that as a long-time Australia-phobe.
I love the idea of this dish- it makes me think of a Melbourne beach café and it tastes amazing: spicy, rich, layered, surprising. It takes a little while to cook but once everything is in the pan it does most of the work itself, so you can run down to the shops for fresh bread or the newspapers.
Chorizo is not traditional but would be delicious in it, as would a few chunks of merguez, that potent North African sausage. According to Claudia Roden, expert in all things Eastern, broad beans are traditional, so I’ve scattered a few from the garden on top. Artichoke hearts can also be added. Serve with crusty bread or toasted pitta, fresh fruit and a variety of cool, minty juices. This recipe is adapted from Yotam Ottolenghi’s version from Plenty, which seems to be the inspiration for many others on the internet.
Serves 2 – double or triple quantities as required
1tsp cumin seed
1tsp coriander seed
1/4tsp ground cloves
1/4tsp smoked paprika
Pinch of cinnamon
Pinch of harissa
Two handfuls of cherry tomatoes
1 tin good quality tinned tomatoes
1 medium chilli
1 red pepper, diced
1 onion, diced
1 large clove of garlic, diced
Pinch of sugar
Salt and pepper
Fresh herbs: parsley, mint and coriander
Broad beans, podded
Dry-fry the whole spices over a medium heat until you start to smell them. Lower the heat slightly, add the oil and the diced onion. After a minute or two add the red pepper and garlic. Add the fresh tomatoes and the rest of the seasonings eg, cinnamon, sugar and chilli. Simmer. Add the tinned tomatoes and any other seasonings as required. Cook for about 15 minutes, or until it’s the consistency of pasta sauce. Lower the heat, make several gaps in the sauce and break your eggs in. And walk away. Cook the eggs until set but still runny – about 15 minutes. Dot the shakshuka with feta. Chop the herbs and cover the dish. Drizzle a little olive oil and yoghurt on top and sprinkle with coarse sea salt and dig in.