Shakshuka (Shak-shoo-ka) is the on trend one pan dish doing the rounds for a killer brunch at the moment. It sounds incredibly fancy but is actually really easy to make and presents beautifully.
Shakshuka is most strongly associated with the Middle East and Israel but there's variations to the dish throughout Africa. The first time I tried shakshuka was in a funky little cafe in a small town called Hout Bay in South Africa. My wife and I were visiting some close friends and were lucky to be shown around the locals hot spots on the dining scene.The first bite was decadent and rich, the acid from the tomato balanced beautifully, the perfectly cooked egg created a wonderful mouthfeel with a subtle lingering of heat from the spices that kept me coming back for more.
This is a wonderful recipe to put into your arsenal as it can be eaten for breakfast or brunch, or any time of the day really, even as a simple healthy dinner. The dish as we know it today originates from in North African and the Middle East, although it may have descended from the Ottoman Empire’s 'saksuka', which did not include tomatoes but did feature meat. Nowadays, shakshuka is commonly associated with the Middle East and Israel in particular, where it was introduced by Jewish immigrants from Tunisia, Morocco, Algeria, and Libya.
If you know your breakfast foods you may see the similarity of this dish to Mexican 'huevos rancheros', made with fried eggs served on tortillas with a tomato chilli sauce, beans, rice and some guacamole, while the Italian 'ova ‘mpriatorio' is made up of almost the same ingredients and makes for a great vegetarian breakfast as well. In Spain, you can eat 'pisto manchego' made with a sunny side up egg placed on an eggplant and tomato stew, sometimes with chorizo. Anyway its pretty safe to say that if all these cultures make a variant of it we must have been eating a dish like this for a very long time.
If you want to keep it vegetarian but add more substance, stir in mixed beans, cannelloni beans or lentils. And if you want meat, add that too - sausages or chorizo; ground beef, lamb, or chicken; whole pieces of poultry or meat; even fish or shellfish. Seriously, anything goes! Let your imagination run wild and you can create your own new sensational dish. I reckon eggs are pretty much the perfect food. They contain a little bit of almost every nutrient you need and are a great source of protein too.
Did you know that more than half the protein of an egg is found in the egg white? Which also includes vitamin B2 and lower amounts of fat than the yolk. Eggs are rich sources of selenium, vitamin D, B6, B12 and minerals such as zinc, iron and copper. All these nutrients help your body function at optimal levels which is why body builders love eggs and the likes of Arnold Schwarzenegger is a huge fan.
The thing I love most about this dish is that it is designed for sharing so is very handy if you are feeling a little dusty after a party and when you have family or friends staying overnight you can easily whip this up, whack it in the oven and then plonk it on the table and let everyone get stuck in. Trust me, they will see you as their hero.
PREP TIME: 10 mins
COOKING TIME: 20-30 mins
2 tbsps olive oil
1 onion diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 red capsicum, seeded & diced
2 tbsps CREOLE
1 tsp ground cumin (optional)
1 tbsp tomato paste
2 vine tomatoes, diced
1 x 400g can of crushed tomatoes
1 x 400g can of mixed beans or alternative (optional)
100g danish feta cheese, crumbled
Sprig of fresh parsley
Sourdough or baguette
Heat the oil over medium heat in a large fry pan. Add the onion and red capsicum then CREOLE and cook until the onion is caramalised and capsicum charred ~6 to 8 minutes.
Reduce the heat to medium-low and add the garlic and cumin. Stir and let cook for about 30 seconds, then add the tomatoes and tomato paste. Add any optional ingredients like mixed beans. Simmer for 15 minutes until the sauce thickens.
Make 3 to 5 wells in the sauce and crack in the eggs. Cover and cook until the eggs are set, 5 to 8 minutes. The timing will depend on how runny you like your egg yolks.
Season with salt and cracked pepper or an extra sprinkle of Creole.
Scatter with crumbled feta and parsley and serve alongside crusty toasted bread. Get stuck in.