Ottolenghi’s Shakshuka! The name says it all. One of my favourite recipes from Yotam Ottolenghi’s Plenty. Vibrant with colour, flavour and texture and yet so easy to make. It does take a little time and patience though, to get the best of the flavours.
Shakshuka is named as a staple dish in Tunisia, Libya, Algeria, Morocco and Egypt, and Wiki says it is popular in Israel. The origins, according to Wiki, were in the Ottoman Empire from where its fame spread to Spain and the Middle East. The origins are also said to be in Yemen. In each country or region there is a variation in the ingredients and the sides along with it is served. A traditional version iswith crushed tomatoes, hot peppers, garlic, salt, paprika, olive oil and poached eggs. As Poached eggs are an essential ingredient, it is often served for breakfast, though it may serve as the central dish for dinner too.
Ottolenghi says that Shakshuka is a North African dish with many variations, sometimes with preserved lemons, sometimes with the addition of feta, different herbs and spices. It is ideally cooked and served straight in the pan in which it is made, along with chunks of white bread.
My version is served with lightly toasted bread and a simple lettuce salad with a citrusy dressing. I made the sauce earlier in the day, and just before dinner, broke the eggs into individual platters of the sauce and poached the eggs in the pan on the stove, as Ottolenghi’s recipe requires, so that the yolk just sets and shimmers below the surface, and the peppers and tomatoes stay juicy.