Friday, August 28, 2015

There is nothing more beautiful than Shakshuka.  Just take a moment and take it all in.  Shakshuka can be a delightful brunch, as Aarti prefers, or it is just as well a breakfast for dinner to captivate hearts.
This dish is what I so lovingly refer to as the Middle Eastern huevos rancheros.  Aaron loves huevos rancheros so much, so I must begrudgingly prepare it from time to time.  I am not really into it, truth be told.  Shakshuka, though.  Next level stuff, people.
I think people get the wrong idea about Indian food and that it is way too heat spicy for their palate.  Thus far in my cooking adventure I have yet to have anything cross the threshold of too hot to handle (and I am a mild gal, all the way).  This dish is yet another that elevates the simple egg into a near Nirvana-esque plate of food.
Aarti suggests serving this with crusty bread that you've rubbed with a clove of garlic, but we went with the world class naan from Trader Joe's frozen section.  It is the best ever.    

You will need:
1/4 cup olive oil*
1/2 TSP cumin seeds
1 small cinnamon stick
1 large yellow onion, sliced 3/8 in thick
1 fennel bulb, out leaves removed, fronds reserved - bulb sliced 3/8 inch thick
kosher salt
1 red bell pepper, sliced 3/8 in thick
1/4 TSP red pepper flakes (more or less to taste)
1/4 TSP turmeric
2 TSP granulated sugar
4 cups diced ripe tomatoes
small handful of roughly chopped parsley, plus more for garnish
5 or 6 large eggs
1 3oz block of feta cheese (in brine is best)
crusty bread, toasted (or naan)

*Aarti's recipe lists extra virgin olive oil, but I learned a while ago that you shouldn't cook with extra virgin olive oil.  It is so refined that it will smoke (burn) without much heat at all.  This oil is best reserved for salad dressings, or a dip for bread, but not anything that involves high heat.  Regular olive oil, like the Italians use, is the proper olive oil for cooking.
Heat the oil over medium heat in a heavy bottomed skillet.  When oil is hot and shimmering toss in the cumin seeds and cinnamon stick.  Only let these sizzle for a few seconds, then add your fennel and onion.  Add about 1.2 TSP of salt, and stir to coat everything in the oil.  Reduce the heat to low and simmer around 10 minutes until onions are light brown, stirring every few minutes so nothing burns or sticks.
Once your onions are a gorgeous light brown color, add the bell pepper, red pepper flakes, turmeric and sugar.  Crank the heat back up to medium and saute until bell peppers are soft and get slightly browned. This should take around five minutes.
Next add the tomatoes, parsley and some of the reserved fennel fronds and another 1/2 TSP of salt.  Reduce the heat to low again, and allow to simmer for another 15 minutes until the texture resembles stew.  Feel free to add water if the mixture gets too thick.
After 15 minutes of simmering, do a flavor check.  Add more salt, pepper or red chili flakes to get the taste just as you like it.
Now time for the eggs.  With a spoon, make 5-6 little indents in the sauce- one for each egg.  Carefully break an egg into each one, working quickly.  If you aren't the best at cracking eggs, crack them into a bowl first, then remove any shells that get in there and easily transfer the egg into the indentation in the sauce.  
Break the feta cheese into crumbles and sprinkle over the mixture - but not onto the eggs.  Cover the pan and heat for 5-8 minutes until the eggs are cooked through.  Ideally the yolks will be a tad runny so that beautiful yolk runs through the spicy tomato mixture when you eat. 
When the eggs are heated through remove the cinnamon stick, and garnish with remaining fennel fronds and parsley. Then bask in the wonder of your most glorious creation.  

1 comment:

  1. I've been wanting to make something very like this because I've been craving eggs. I'll keep this in mind.