Express Recipes: How to make Shakshuka, a middle eastern breakfast

MIDDLE EASTERN DELIGHT: Shakshuka recipe (Source: Ashima Goyal Siraj)

My initial motivation to make Shakshuka was – “it sounds exotic”. And then I saw it, ate it and fell in love with both the looks and the taste of it. I was visiting one of the foundation’s project in Huambo and the housekeeper there made Shakshuka.

Shakshuka is a quintessential middle eastern and north African breakfast. A dish of contrasting colours – fiery red of the tomatoes against the white and yellow of the eggs. I was told traditionally it is eaten right off the pan with a thick slice of bread to finally mop the spicy sauce. Well we did have it served in our plates to eat but I would one day surely try to do individual portions in small pans to be entirely true to the dish.

The basic ingredients for Shakshuka are tomatoes and eggs but that is just the beginning. You can experiment with veggies of your choice. I have added diced bell peppers in this one; my friend loves to add eggplant in hers. The basic spice is only salt, pepper and cumin but you can experiment with that too to add more of a local flavour.

Preparation Time: 10 mins | Cooking Time: 20 mins | Serves 3-4

6 ripe tomatoes, cut into small cubes
6 eggs
1/2 cup tomato pulp
1 onion, cut into small cubes
4 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 green bell pepper, cut into small cubes
2 tsp paprika
2 tsp cumin powder
Salt and black pepper to taste
1 tsp sugar
100 gms feta cheese cubes
3 tbsp Olive oil
Bread slices to serve with

* Heat Olive oil in a large deep frying pan/ skillet
* Add garlic and sauté for half a minute
* Now add onions and bell peppers and sauté till they are soft and translucent.
* Add the tomatoes and cook for a couple of minutes till tomatoes are tender.
* Add tomato pulp and all the seasoning. Mix well and cook covered for about 10 minutes with occasional stirring in between.
* The sauce should be thick and flavourful. Taste and adjust the seasoning to taste.
* Add in the feta cheese cubes and mix.
* Switch off the heat. Make 6 holes in the sauce and carefully break an egg into each of the holes. With the back of a spoon, spread the egg white over.
* Cover the pan and turn back the heat on to very low. Cook for a couple of minutes (or lesser if you want your yolks to be runny) until the eggs are done.
* Sprinkle with black pepper. Serve immediately with bread and in the same pot in which the shakshuka is prepared.