WHEN I LIVED IN THE MIDDLE EAST, MY FRIENDS AND I SPENT MANY-A-WEEKEND-BRUNCH CHATTING OVER A SHAKSHUKA. So it’s become one of my favorite breakfast dishes, both for sentimental and gastronomic reasons.
I’d never made it until recently. I woke up one morning, craving a shakshuka. With nowhere to get it, I decided to make one. If you’ve never heard of it, it’s a baked egg dish that originated in North Africa. Nowadays, you get versions all over the Middle East.
HERE’S MY TAKE:
Serves 4 comfortably.
- Half tsp cumin seeds (optional, I like the smell and texture)
- Few tbsps of vegetable oil (I use olive oil)
- 2 large yellow onions diced (I’ve used red onions too)
- 3 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1/2 to 1 tsp of brown sugar (this is optional; depending on your tomatoes, sometimes the sauce is too tart, so add sugar to balance)
- Handful of chopped coriander/cilantro, plus extra to garnish
- 2 cans of chopped tomatoes (organic, no salt added)
- 1 tsp cayenne/chili powder
- 2 tbsp cumin powder
- 1 big tsp of salt (possibly more to taste)
- 8 free-range eggs (or however will comfortably fit in your pan)
*Don’t forget to scroll down for your Savory Sounds cooking soundtrack.
- In a large pan, dry-roast the cumin seeds on a high heat for 2 minutes. Add the oil and onions and sauté until the onions start to look translucent.
- Add the garlic and continue to sauté. Be careful not to burn the garlic.
- Add the chili and cumin to warm up spices. Now add the tomatoes, salt and sugar (optional). Add a can of water and the coriander. Mix well. Reduce the heat to medium.
- Cook until the sauce is a pasty consistency. It should take about 15 minutes. If the paste gets too dry, add more water. Taste and adjust the seasoning. I like mine quite spicy.
- Make a few gaps in the sauce around the pan, and carefully break each egg into these gaps (use them as a guide; don’t worry if the gaps start filling up with sauce).
- Cover the pan with a lid. The steam inside the pan will cook the eggs in minutes. Poke the eggs to see if they’re done. I like mine on the harder side, but you can go soft-boiled if you prefer. Garnish with a bit more coriander/cilantro. Presto!
As long as you have the eggs and tomato, you can add anything else you like. You could try a meaty version by frying some sausages, along with the onions at the start. Personally, I like mine quite simple. Ps. I like to make one big pan of shakshuka, where everyone sits around and tucks in. It brings them together over a great dish!
THESE TUNES WON’T OVERPOWER GOOD CONVERSATION, as you chat with friends at brunch.
Panama is an Aussie band and their music sounds like ethereal, electronic pop. The original version of Always is pretty amazing, but I really love this remix:
Magic was my “happy, beach song” a couple of years ago. It still takes me back to a sunny sea breeze: