We all like our various dishes as the towns and countries roll by. Whether it's some tantalizing dessert or the eyes of a Squid moving around watching the chopsticks approach one of its tentacles, there is almost an obligatory culinary experience waiting somewhere in the wings. Myself, I'm quite conservative food wise, but there is the rare occasion something out of the ordinary slides its way over my tongue.
Four years ago I spent some time in Seville. It was a nice hot afternoon and a girl in the hostel I was at asked me if I liked Shuka. The returning blank stare brought forth the description. She went on to inform me that the real name was Shakshuka, it sounded good. That evening several of us sat down to a very tasty meal of it.
Recently, I decided to make myself a single serving of the dish.
Shakshuka is a Middle Eastern breakfast meal (you can eat it any time of day though).
It is thousands of years old and has been traced to the Berber People (some were nomadic farm workers)
of the Atlas Mountains in what is now Morocco.
Ingredients (serves 1)
This is the recipe for the one you see here.
- 1 Egg (you could have 2)
- 20ml Extra Virgin or First Estate Olive Oil (not the cheap stuff it hasn't got the flavor).
- 1/2 Red Pepper (you can have green and yellow ones as well, or all 3).
- 4 slices medium Onion.
- 4 Tomatoes.
- 1/2 a small courgette.
- 2 good slices of squash or turnip
- Note, my teaspoons are small.
- Good sized pinch of Mixed Herbs or Herbs de Provence.
- 1/2 teaspoon of ground Cumin.
- 1/2 teaspoon of Paprika.
- 1/2 teaspoon of salt.
- 1/2 teaspoon of mild chili powder. Unless you like it skull blowing hotthen use 1 tiny hot chili (good for hangovers).
- Some Garlic (ground or crushed - to taste).
Warning, do not use Silver utensils, tomato and silver do not mix.
- I put all the spices and herbs into a Pestal, then grind them up even more, mixing them all together. Put aside in small dish.
- Slice and chop all the vegetables. Put aside in big dish.
- Use a small frying pan that has a cover. Place it on burner that is set for the very lowest heat (simmer).
- Put all the vegetables in the frying pan. Sprinkle over everything, the spices and Olive Oil. Give it a little stir then put lid on pan for about 15-20 minutes. The lid stops evaporation escaping. Lift the lid. You will see everything in the pan and a lot of "juice". Give it all a good stir. Then get rid of the lid.
- Never add water, just let it simmer slowly, with occasional stir (cooking in its own juices), until the entire contents of the pan becomes a very thick paste. It's okay to break the bigger pieces up with a wooden spatula if you want.
- Using a large serving spoon make one good depression in the middle. Break one egg into the depression, pierce the yolk (if you want) and cover the pan again for 5 minutes or until the egg is cooked.
- It takes around an hour total to finish. Turn off stove and serve directly from the pan with a large serving spoon.
- Eat and enjoy.
There are no set rules for Shakshuka, except for the tomatoes, Cumin, salt and eggs. You could even use last night's leftover vegetables. My son does one that after serving is topped with a salad.
Ready to eat, which I did while watching some Snooker on TV.
A hot cup of Chicory accompanied it.
Garlic toast. At breakfast, coffee to drink. For a later meal red wine is nice with it.
True Middle Eastern (Jewish or pre-Arab*)
Just a breakfast dish. Drink was ground Chicory. Eaten with a sort of wrap type bread that you use to scoop it all up or wooden spoons, using right hand only (NEVER use the left hand in the Middle East, Africa and some parts of Asia, especially in rural areas - it's used for toilet).*Arab is a new word that seems to have come out of the Muslim religion (A-raab). Prior to that they all had different names like the Badawi (Bedouin - many still speak the ancient language).