Updated: Mar 6
Shakshuka is a slow-cooked pepper and tomato sauce with eggs from North Africa, the Middle East and the Mediterranean. Every region has its own variation, each using a different variation of spices, herbs and/or different vegetables. I love this dish, and over the years I have tried various recipes, but have finally fallen in love with this recipe from @Ottolenghi. The dish is slow-cooked, and I tend to extend the time of the cooking by using a low flame, extracting the flavours from the peppers and slowly caramelizing the tomatoes for a rich and complex flavour profile. You can taste the pungency of the peppers, the sweetness from the sugar and onions, the tartness from the tomatoes and the paprika adds an indulgent smoky and mild spice to the dish. I step away from the original recipe and use Spanish smoked paprika, both sweet and hot, for a complex flavour that lingers on the palate. Although this dish is traditionally served with eggs, slow-cooked and runny, I have also used boiled eggs and I occasional;y add feta cheese as a topping.
I served this in a contemporary Indian style, over bread, and topped with a wedge of boiled eggs as an appetizer. The presentation was beautiful and the dish was well received. I also served it again in a more traditional fashion, slow-cooked with runny eggs. It does not matter how you serve this dish, it is just over-the-top good!
I bought this book early in my cooking life and I have cooked about 3/4th of the recipes from it. The recipes are global and each one is spectacular. I have almost all of the Ottolenghi collection, these books have introduced me to Middle Eastern flavours and other global flavours. This book though is probably my favourite of all his cookbooks.
For more recipes from this cookbook click here.
1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds 2-3 tablespoons light olive oil or vegetable oil 2 large onions, peeled and thinly sliced 2 red and 2 yellow peppers, cored and thinly sliced
1 green pepper, cored and thinly sliced 4 teaspoons muscovado or brown sugar 2 bay leaves 1 teaspoon dried or fresh thyme 2 tbsp flat-leaf parsley, minced 1/2 cup fresh coriander, minced 6 ripe tomatoes, roughly chopped
1/2 teaspoon saffron strands 1/2 teaspoon sweet smoked paprika
1/2 teaspoon hot paprika, or to taste. If not using add more sweet smoked paprika Salt and pepper to taste 1 cup water 4-6 free-range eggs
In a large saucepan, dry-roast the cumin on high heat for two minutes. Add the oil and sauté the onions for 5 minutes till they are translucent. Add the peppers, sugar, bay leaves, thyme, parsley and two tablespoons of coriander, and cook on high heat to get a nice colour, about 15 minutes and till the peppers are soft and cooked.
Add the tomatoes, saffron, cayenne, salt and pepper. Cook on low heat for 15-20 minutes, adding enough water to keep it the consistency of a pasta sauce. Taste and adjust the seasoning. It should be potent and flavoursome. You can prepare this mix in advance.
To finish the dish in the more traditional way warm the sauce in a pan in a pan. When hot, make 4-6 depressions in the mix, they should not be all the way to the surface of the pan. Crack an egg in each depression and cook over a slow simmer for about 15-20 minutes till the whites are cooked through and the yolks are as runny as you prefer. Serve with bread, naan, lavish, pita bread, or any bread of your choice.
To serve in a more contemporary fashion, boil and peel the eggs. Cut into quarters along the long axis. Heat the sauce. Cut and toast the bread of choice, pita, naan, white or whole wheat bread, or other bread. Load the heated sauce on the toasted bread and top with an egg. Serve as an appetizer or finger food immediately.