DIY – Shakshuka (Olympics edition)

I know, I never said I was actually going to do any of this MYSELF. But, I figured that if I had enough technique to paint very detailed Canadian flags on my fingernails while watching 10 hours straight of highly competitive sport, and if my boyfriend can fix the dryer himself, then I could certainly try my hand at Algerian food. It’s good to have goals.

Shakshuka is a popular North African dish, consisting of eggs poached in a rich tomato sauce with vegetables. It’s also eaten in Israel, where it was originally introduced by Tunisian Jews, says Wikipedia. The first time I had shakshuka was circa 2002; a friend of mine was dating an Israeli guy, who made something which at least resembled this, using tomato ketchup instead of fresh tomatoes. He didn’t like tomatoes. Who doesn’t like tomatoes? I like to think of this cooking feat as Kraft Dinner versus Jamie Oliver macaroni cheese – I’m pretty sure I can one-up his effort.

Although traditionally a breakfast meal, I don’t have time to cook in the mornings so I made this for dinner last night. It was super easy, delicious, and made my weight watchers points calculator very happy, except for the whole 200 ml of olive oil thing, but if you don’t write that down, it doesn’t count. Try Yolam Ottolenghi’s recipe – it’s available on the guardian website, if you don’t want to buy his book, Plenty, which, by the way, you probably do.

Or do what I did – go to foodgawker and pick the recipe with the nicest picture. In this case, the medal (go Team GB go!) went to fellow London food blogger Sarah Moore, who had also opted for the Ottolenghi version.

There are a bazillion different ways you can do this, to suit your taste. I even found an Indian version; the Italians call this “Eggs in Purgatory.” If you can get over the fact that it looks a bit like barf, it is well tasty however you make it. Top tip: don’t start making this, and then run upstairs to watch Usain Bolt collect his gold medal for the men’s 100m sprint. He’s pretty awesome, but that extra minute and a half cost me my runny yolks.

The long and the short of it:

Dry fry some cumin. Add oil, onions, peppers, dark brown sugar and lots of delicious spices. Tomatoes, saffron, cayenne salt and pepper. Simmer for 15 minutes, adding water as necessary.

Divide the mixture between a few frying pans, if you’re making a big batch – I panicked, and shoved all my eggs in one pan, which was OK, because I was only cooking for two. Make little craters, and crack an egg into each. Cover and bake for about ten minutes – don’t let it sit too long. Usain Bolt can wait. Ryan Bailey on the other hand – sigh. Dreamy.

English: Usain Bolt after 4 x 100 m final - Wo...

Usain Bolt: because I couldn’t find a free picture of Ryan Bailey.

The finished product

You can serve this with whatever you want – I imagine fresh pita would be amazing, or even naan bread. I went for a baguette, because that’s all they had left at Sainsbury’s express. Whatever you do – ‘just do it.’ Can you tell I’m in the spirit of the Games?

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