There are some food that sits pretty on their own, and there are some that screams at you. The colours of the shakshuka are so vivid that it oozes passion and character. The bright red, loud yellow and vibrant saffron orange conjure a portrait worthy of placement in any museum.
This is the sort of dish that inspires one to make, well, N had this recipe on the must-make list for a long time now. The first time she laid her eyes on it, it never left her lips. Just reading through the list of ingredients causes one to salivate – lovely poached eggs cooked in tangy tomato sauce, alongside sweet peppers, onions and saffron. When the fragrance of the peppers started to waft through the house, waiting for the dish to be ready was awfully excruciating. I think I screamed ‘hungry’ like five times this morning.
We don’t usually have such flavourful breakfasts; we usually start our day with porridge and steamed dumplings. With the different exotic textures bursting in one’s mouth, it was almost like being somewhere else. I loved it so much that I had two servings. N, this is definitely a keeper.
Adapted from Yotam Ottolenghi, Plenty
¼ tsp cumin seeds
3-4 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 large onion, peeled and sliced
1 red and 1 yellow peppers, cored and cut into 1cm strips
2-3 tsp muscovado sugar
1 bay leaf
3 sprigs of thyme
1 tbsp flat-leaf parsley, chopped
½ bunch fresh coriander, chopped
3 ripe tomatoes, chopped to little cubes
¼ tsp saffron strands
Pinch of cayenne pepper
Salt and pepper
Up to 120ml water
4 free-range eggs
In a large saucepan, dry-roast the cumin on high heat for two minutes or as soon as it pops and you can smell the aroma of the cumin.
Add the oil and sauté the onions for two minutes. Add the peppers, sugar, bayleaf, thyme, parsley and one tablespoon of coriander, and cook on high heat (to give the peppers a really nice colour) for 10 minutes. Add the tomatoes, saffron, cayenne, salt and pepper. Taste and adjust accordingly; there should be sweetness from the peppers, if there isn’t, add more sugar. Cook on low heat for 15 minutes, adding enough water to keep it at the consistency of a pasta sauce.
Create 4 holes like nests in the mixture and break and pour four eggs into the gaps. Sprinkle with salt, cover and cook very gently on low heat for 8-10 minutes, until the egg just sets. Sprinkle with coriander and serve with chunky white bread.