Do you ever experience that thing where you hear about something or read about something you’ve never heard of before for the first time, and then happen to stumble across it lots of times again within a few days? No?
Okay, well anyway, this is what happened to me with shakshuka (also known as shakshouka/ chakchouka/ a few other variants). I read about it on a blog, then saw a similar dish on another blog a couple of days later, then Hugh Fearnley-Whatsisface did it on his River Cottage Veg Every Day programme (recipe here or in the book which accompanies the series, which I can recommend whether you’re vegetarian or not).
This recipe is my own version of shakshuka, which falls into my ‘handy vegetarian midweek dinner’ repertoire. It’s nothing fancy, yet I always especially look forward to eating it. I think it’s because the process of mopping up the eggy, tomato-ey sauce reminds me of dippy egg and soldiers (that’s a boiled egg and toast to the uninitiated) or of mopping up the remnants of a fried breakfast with a bit of bread and butter.
- A red pepper
- A yellow pepper
- An orange pepper
- An onion
- Sea salt
- A heaped tablespoonful of cumin seeds
- Four cloves of garlic, crushed
- A red chilli, deseeded and chopped
- Two teaspoonfuls of smoked paprika
- A tin of chopped tomatoes
- Four eggs
De-seed and thinly slice the peppers and peel and thinly slice the onion. Put this all in a large shallow pan (use one with a lid if you can as you’ll need it later) with a bit of flavourless oil and a generous pinch of sea salt and fry on a medium heat until everything is softening nicely and the onion is turning translucent.
Add the cumin seeds, garlic and chilli and continue to fry gently until everything has cooked down and is smelling fragrant.
Add the paprika and chopped tomatoes (I like to whizz my tomatoes in a food processor first because I’m a bit like that) and stir everything together. Cook for a further five or ten minutes, stirring occasionally.
Now, make four ‘wells’ in the peppery, tomato-y mixture as best you can. Break an egg into each ‘well’ and leave to cook on a medium heat with a lid on the pan, allowing the eggs to cook in the steam as well as the heat from the bottom of the pan. Once the egg whites are well on their way to turning opaque, I like to finish the whole thing off by putting the pan under a medium grill for a few minutes. Alternatively, you could allow them to finish cooking on the hob. You want the eggs to be cooked through, but still runny.
Divide between two and serve with a wodge of bread for moppage.