Shakshooka

Behold, shakshooka!

Shakshooka

This dish is common across all of North Africa and is as diverse (there are as many versions as there are cooks!) as it is flavourful. I’m told by my mom that the dish is originally Tunisian, which makes sense because, according to Wikipedia, the word shakshooka means “a mixture” in the Berber language used by many peoples in North Africa (including Tunisia, Morocco and the Oases of Egypt).

I find shakshooka an especially comforting dish to have on cold winter mornings :).  It’s essentially eggs poached in tomatoes, peppers, onions, salt, pepper and a hint of cumin.   The version you see in the picture above is topped with some feta & coriander; yum!

Since the dish is so simple, it’s important to use the best possible ingredients that you can,  this usually translates into the freshest. I say usually because, I don’t know about you, but I’ve yet to find a fresh tomatoe in the Canadian winter months that doesn’t take like plastic; not so yummy! In that case, canned tomatoes it is! In Egypt though, nothing beats getting your tomatoes farm-fresh, sun-kissed and off of a donkey-cart.

Taken from my balcony in Egypt: your friendly neighborhood grocer on wheels. I see those tomatoes!

Don’t get me wrong though, you can still purchase all your grocery needs from a modern grocery store in Egypt, I just prefer the donkey cart method for a number of reasons. Consider this: I lose at least 10lb every single time I go to Egypt for the summer!  When I thought about why this was, even though I spend my summer indulging for all intents and purposes, I realized it was because of the lack of “junk  food” in my diet. Sure, you can get chocolate, chips and candy in Egypt, but it is much easier to avoid temptation. There’s no aisle of doom when you buy your produce from the veggie-man and your meat from the butcher!

No chips in sight. My mom picking out some fruit from a road-side stand.

There I go digressing again; I just have so much to share with you all! Anyway, back to the shakshooka, here’s a recipe for you give it a go:

Serves 4

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 green bell pepper, diced
  • 1 (28 ounce) can whole peeled plum tomatoes with juice (or fresh, when in season)
  • 1 teaspoon paprika (or to taste)
  • 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon cumin (or to taste)
  • Salt (to taste- if using canned tomatoes you may not need extra salt)
  • 4 eggs
In a deep skillet, heat the oil on medium heat and then saute the onion, green pepper and garlic until the onion starts to become translucent. Add the tomatoes and seasoning, crushing the tomatoes with a fork or the back of a spoon. Let the tomatoe mixture simmer, uncovered, for about 25-30 minutes.
Crack the eggs on top of the tomatoe-sauce and let cook until the level of doneness you like. Personally, I like my yolks a little runny.
Serve rustic style in the skillet with pita bread to mop up the tomatoe-sauce. Yum!
Change it up: Add jalapenos, parsely, coriander, feta, different coloured peppers, take away the onion, add more onion – hey, a recipe is just a guideline! 🙂
Did you know: Egyptian records indicate that man collected eggs from fowl as far back as 4000 B.C., neat! Source: http://www.incredibleegg.org/egg-facts/basic-egg-facts/history-of-egg-production/from-ancient-times
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