The BEST shakshuka in the world
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Happy Tuesday morning everyone,
The best Shakshuka in the world
I was asked to make a contribution to a cook book in Scotland called Recipes to save a roof.
The cook book is a benefit book filled with traditional jewish recipes and stories.
My shakshuka story is one of many.
I was born in Israel and grew up in a traditional Sephardic home. Dad was the bread winner and mum was the home maker. Dad worked 6 days a week and several nights to provide for our family of six. So spending time with my dad was really precious and Shabbat was the time we were able to be with him and extended family. Every Saturday we would go and visit our aunties. He would catch up with his beloved sister’s and we kids would play with my cousins, but on the odd occasion, before going to visit the relatives, dad would cook us Shakshuka. Now, my Abba was no master chef, but he could cook one thing, and that was shakshuka, and whenever he did we would get super excited. Was is the best shakshuka in the world? Probably not, but the precious time spent together was filled with love which seemed to imbue the food, and made it delicious beyond description, so that I devoured it with more relish than any meal I have ever eaten since. Dad was an early riser and he would be up at the crack of dawn on a Saturday morning. On certain special saturdays, when the mood struck him he would decide to spoil us, and call out to us kids, “Who wants shakshuka!” and my siblings and I would call out at the top of our lungs , “Me, I want a shakshuka, Abba, me, me!” Dad would let mum have a sleep in as he prepared the ingredients. He would always grate a zucchini into the sauce, as he wanted us to eat greens at every opportunity. I’ve kept this ingredient in my shakshuka recipe as an homage to my dad. Every now and then, lured by the tantalising smell wafting from the kitchen, we would run in to ask, “Abba is it ready, yet, is it ready, is it, is it!” Dad would be whistling as he cooked, only stopping to answer, “Not yet, hamuda, motek!” Once our shakshuka was ready, Dad would call out in Arabic, “Eyuni, rochi, albi, (which means, “My eyes, my soul, my heart!”) come and get it!”
We would stampede into the kitchen, and jockey for the coveted position next to Abba, while the youngest clambered into his lap. Dad would hand out the crockery and bread. No cutlery was needed as we would break the bread and dip it into that beautiful, bright orangey, runny, egg yellow and dip it into the red sauce and down the hatch. To this day I prefer to eat my shaksuka hands on.
Dad would be beaming as he fed his little tribe of four while he sang along to “Adon Olam” coming from the synagogue right next door to our home. The songs of praise filled our house every shabbat but on the occasional shabbat when dad made us shakshuka were the best. I have never felt a greater feeling of being truly blessed as I did on those precious occasions filled with love, family, food and song .
3 tablespoons oil 1 red capsicum, diced 1 onion, diced
4 cloves of garlic, crushed
2 teaspoons curry
2 teaspoon coriander
2 teaspoons sweet paprika
2 teaspoons turmeric
2 tablespoons Harrisa paste (optional but it adds flavour)
1 zucchini, grated
4 large tomatoes, diced
2-3 tablespoons tomato paste
1 bottle passata 700mls
¾-1 cup hot water
Salt and pepper to taste
½ bunch fresh continental parsley or coriander, or a combination of the two.
Heat the oil in a large pan over medium heat. Cook the onions and capsicum for approximately 5 minutes. Stir in garlic until fragrant, mix in the spices, (not including the salt and pepper). Stir in grated zucchini and cook for 3 minutes stirring occasionally. Add diced tomatoes cook for an additional 3 minutes. Stir in tomato paste and hot water give it a good stir making sure the tomato paste has dissolved completely before adding the passata. Season with salt and pepper, cover with lid and bring to a simmer. Stir in the fresh coriander or parsley. Using a large wooden spoon, make wells in the sauce making sure they are not too close to each other. Crack the eggs into each well.
Cook eggs until they are done to your liking. Garnish with fresh herbs or zaatar or both, serve with bread.