I’ve had a bee in my bonnet to make Shakshuka since eating it a The Kirstenbosch Tearoom a few months ago. Their version is utterly delicious. Soft unctuous eggs wallowing in a very thick and slightly spicy tomato sauce is all kinds of heaven for me.
I turned to my favourite Middle Eastern cookbook author for inspiration, aka Ottolenghi, and based my recipe on his from the book ‘Jerusalem’. I added onion, mushroom and spinach to my version, which I don’t think is at all traditional but it worked really well. All of those blended happily with the sauce and are a perfect partner to an egg. This recipe is easy to adapt to your own taste by adding whatever you like and have on hand. Aubergines, zucchini and potatoes would be fabulous.
Shakshuka originates in Tunisia but is a popular dish served all over Israel. I guess it was designed to be eaten for breakfast or lunch but it was wonderful for supper too.
I used the delicious Terra Madre Harissa paste which is slightly sweet and not that hot, so I added double the quantity (4 Tablespoons vs 2) and, because I felt it need a slight kick, I added half a teaspoon of dried smoked chilli flakes. Ottolenghi recommends serving Shakshuka with Labneh, or thick yoghurt, but I just loved it with toasted white bread. I also scattered over roughly chopped cilantro/coriander to the finished dish. It gives it a lovely herby freshness.
- 1 small red onion finely chopped
- 2 T olive oil
- 2 large red or yellow peppers cut into 0.5cm dice
- 2 cups mushrooms finely sliced
- 4 cloves garlic crushed
- 2 - 4 T harissa paste depending on how hot
- 1 T tomato paste
- 1 ½ t ground cumin
- 1/2 t dried chilli flakes optional
- 5 large ripe tomatoes 800g – or 2 x 400g tins of chopped peeled tomatoes
- 3 cups baby spinach leaves
- salt and pepper
- 4 – 6 free-range eggs
- a small handful of cilantro/coriander roughly chopped
- Heat the olive oil in a frying pan and cook the onion until softened, about 4 – 5 minutes.
- Add the peppers and cook for a further few minutes until they are soft. Add the mushrooms and cook for a minute or two.
- Add the tomato paste, harissa, cumin, chilli, salt, pepper and garlic and cook for about 5 more minutes. Add a splash of water if it dries out and becomes too thick.
- Add the tomatoes (I used tin) and the spinach and cook for 10 minutes and until the sauce is thick.
- Make little wells in the sauce and break the eggs into these, and simmer for 8 – 10 minutes until cooked. Swirls the egg whites a bit with the sauce and try not to break the yolks. If you cover the pan it will speed up the process.
- The eggs are ready when the whites are firm and cooked and the egg yolks are soft.
- Spoon out the eggs with the sauce and serve.