Shakshuka. Despite the funny name, shakshuka is simply a dish of eggs poached in a sauce of tomatoes, chili, and onions, with a mix of spices like cumin. It’s a popular dish in the Middle East and Northern Africa.
It has to be one my favourite breakfasts. The beauty of it is you can throw whatever you want into the sauce. All the way in Thailand we met an Israeli boy who was also craving this dish and I was stoked to learn the Israeli secrets.
The group of us staying at The Yoga House in Chiang Mai decided to give the vegetarian shakshuka recipe a go with the ingredients we could gather from the local Thai market. We managed with a bag of onions, zucchini, tomatoes, garlic, basil, capsicum, and eggs. In Israel, they dice everything up very finely and rather beautifully like in Tabouli. Dice your onions and tomatoes just like you would with a Tabouli. Dice/Slice the other vegetables. Prepare the beans. Whatever you want to throw in is okay there is freedom in the shakshuka.
Sauté the onions, garlic and capsicum.
I personally love to use a heap of spices and I sauté them on their own like you would with Indian. Get the flavor out of the cumin. In Thailand, we used fresh basil.
Fill a deep frying pan/paella dish (preferred), pot (if you must like us) with your finely chopped tomatoes, sautéed onions, garlic, vegetables, beans, what have you.
After you let your mixture sauté with spices, it’s time for eggs. This is the Israeli secret: It’s all about the eggs. Dig a little pocket for each individual egg. Crack your egg carefully in each pocket. Spread around 4 eggs in their individual pockets in the sauce.
Dig the pocket and snuggle them in. Many shakshukas in the West are served with the eggs poached on top and it doesn’t serve the dish justice. Time to slow cook. 20+ minutes until you get something like…
…This. That’s shakshuka! Sprinkle each egg lovingly with salt and pepper. I love it. It’s a dish that brings people together and it’s so easy to substitute anything, make it elaborate with a grilled eggplant sauce or make it simple just tomatoes, onion, egg. Serve by cutting out slices like a casserole. Eat with flatbread like pita, toast or on its own.
Okay, now for my recipe. Use the Israeli traveller’s techniques and care combined with your own creativity. This was my back of the cupboard shakshuka that was inspired by a shakshuka I had in a cafe in Bondi, Sydney.
The shakshuka in Bondi consisted of all day baked eggplants-black-like you would with babaganoush, eggplant blended with tomatoes to make a delicious purée, purée mixed with sautéed onions and garlic, mixture layered in a small paella dish, two free range eggs poached in the mixture, topped with dukha (Egyptian spices) and Persian goat’s fetta. Served with a huge piece of pita bread. Oh my goodness.
My Vegetarian Shakshuka Recipe:
Serves 2 hungry people
1 Can or 1 Cup of Chickpeas (pre-cooked)
Garlic – to taste
1 Can Diced Tomato Sauce, or 2 Cups Diced Fresh Tomato
Cumin – main spice, use generously
Turmeric – a dash for good luck
Cayenne pepper – tiniest pinch
Garam masala – just a dash
Coriander – just a dash
Oregano – couple teaspoons
Mustard seed – plenty
For my recipe you want to bake or BBQ the eggplant until the outside is black and insides are soft. This gives the taste. Leave chunky or purée with tomatoes.
Yumm okay, so that’s that. Follow my earlier steps with the substitutions. Let the shakshouka cook on the stove top until the eggs looked cooked either runny or hard, whichever you prefer.
Top with some feta cheese and enjoy!