There is a special recipe for me in the Yotam Ottolenghi recipe book ‘Plenty’. On page 87 Yotam describes a little restaurant in Jaffa, Isarael serving Shakshuka. Describing the recipe as the ideal brunch fair, his recipe includes cumin, onions red and yellow peppers and tomatoes.
Having served the dish to many guests, it is a winner, especially during the pepper season. As peppers became more expensive, the dish went of my menu. Then I found you can make your own variations on the basic recipe.
Shakshouka is a staple of Tunisian, Libyan, Algerian, Moroccan, and Egyptian cuisines, traditionally served in a cast iron pan or tajine with bread to mop up the sauce. It is also popular in Israel, where it was introduced by Tunisian Jews and other Maghrebi Jews, hundreds of thousands of whom immigrated to Israel during the 1950s.
According to food writer Claudia Roden, Tunisian cooks added artichoke hearts, potatoes and broad beans to the dish. Because eggs are the main ingredient, it is often on breakfast menus, but in Israel, it is also a popular evening meal. It has been said to challenge hummus and falafel as a national favourite, especially in the winter. According to some food historians, the dish was invented in the Ottoman Empire, spreading throughout the Middle East and Spain, where it is often served with spicy sausage. Another belief is that it hails from Yemen, where it is served with zhug, a hot green paste. Some versions include salty cheeses but traditional recipes are very basic, consisting merely of crushed tomatoes, hot peppers, garlic, salt, paprika, olive oil and poached eggs.
I’m not going to post my recipe here as there are plenty to be found in the search engines – for my latest batch, I harvested ingredients from my winter garden – red chard, mustard leaves and self seeded salad greens –
the results (fragrant flavours steaming up to moisten the taste buds not included):