Thursday, April 25, 2013

Yotom Ottolenghi's Shakshuka: Colorful, Flavorful Peppers & Eggs

As soon as I saw the name Shakshuka, I wanted to make this Yotam Ottolenghi dish. Just say it out loud--fast, low and throaty... Shaksuka! It's just plain fun to say. This North African dish is also pretty and colorful and tastes delicious. How can you not love a medley of sautéed bell pepper, onions and tomatoes with herbs and spices? The runny-yolked egg carefully nestled in the veggies, is the icing on the cake!

In Plenty, Yotam Ottolenghi says, "In a tiny alley in old Jaffa there's a little restaurant serving food to customers sitting outside at shared shabby tables. The place is heaving around lunchtime and everybody, more or less, is eating the same thing. The place is called Dr. Shakshuka, after its signature dish, and thus is, obviously, what everyone is tucking into."

from Plenty by Yotam Ottolenghi
(Serves 4 Generously)

1/2 tsp cumin seeds
1/4 cup olive or vegetable oil
2 large onions, sliced
2 red bell peppers, cut into 3/4-inch strips
2 yellow bell peppers, cut into 3/4-inch strips
4 tsp muscovado (you can substitute brown) sugar
2 bay leaves
6 thyme sprigs, leaves picked and chopped
2 Tbsp chopped parsley
2 Tbsp chopped cilantro, plus extra to garnish
6 ripe tomatoes, roughly chopped
1/2 teaspoon saffron threads
pinch of cayenne pepper 
salt and black pepper
up to 1-1/8 cups water
8 eggs 

In a large saucepan, dry-roast the cumin on high heat for two minutes. Add the oil and sauté the onions for two minutes. Add the peppers, sugar, bay leaves, thyme, parsley and two tablespoons of coriander, and cook on high heat to get a nice colour. Add the tomatoes, saffron, cayenne, salt and pepper. Cook on low heat for 15 minutes, adding enough water to keep it the consistency of a pasta sauce. Taste and adjust the seasoning. It should be potent and flavoursome. You can prepare this mix in advance.

Place four saucepans on medium heat and divide the mixture between them. Break two eggs into each pan, pouring into gaps in the mixture. Sprinkle with salt, cover and cook very gently for 10-12 minutes, until the egg just sets. Sprinkle with coriander and serve with chunky white bread.
Ottolenghi notes that the dish has many variations like preserved lemon, feta and other herbs and spices. 

Notes/Results: I love this dish with all its wonderful flavor. There is a sweetness in the peppers and tomatoes, the savory onions and eggs, and roasty taste of the cumin seeds and the freshness of the herbs. I made about a half-batch with three smallish peppers--red, yellow and orange. The price of the three-pack from Canada was cheaper than buying the peppers individually from Mexico, and the extra color is fun. I reduced the oil by more than half (down to about 2 Tbsp for the half-recipe) and just a pinch of sugar (no need for more of either in my opinion), but I forgot to reduce the spice amounts as I was cooking from the full recipe to half-batch. Whoops! No matter--I like more intense flavors. This is a dish that smells delicious from the moment the cumin seed hits the hot pan and the aroma gets better as each layer of ingredients is added. I ate this as a "breakfast for dinner" with some toasted garlic bread to dip into the sauce and egg yolk. A definite make-again for me!

It's Potluck week at I Heart Cooking Clubs--a chance to make any recipe from Ottolenghi or any of our previous chefs (new fun feature!) and Shakshuka is also our Optional Monthly Community Recipe (another fun new IHCC feature where we can all make the same Ottolenghi recipe). You can check out the other Potluck dishes by going to the post and seeing the link-ups. 



  1. Mmm I've made shakshuka before and it is such a comfort food to is anything with runny yolks lol! Such great flavors in this version!

  2. Hi Deb!

    Shakshuka is indeed delicious! My son and I enjoyed it very much! We love bell peppers and I've made it a little bit spicy by using Mexican chili powder, yummy! Love the vibrant colour of this dish!

    Definitely worth making again!
    Have a great weekend!

  3. I love it. Sprinkled with some crumbled feta is my favourite!

  4. ooh I love the colors!

  5. Yes! Another take on shakshuka and just as tempting ... this recipe is calling me to make it as a brunch! So pretty with all that color!

  6. This dish has such a wonderful presentation and there is something about those eggs perched on top that seems so inviting. I think the extra spices would do this dish good. I could have used a little more spice in mine. So glad to hear you enjoyed it. I'd definitely make it again too!

  7. All of the recipes I've seen posted from Ottolenghi look and sound wonderful!!! I think I need a new cook book! Also, I have a salad for Sunday!

  8. mira (mermaid cafe)April 28, 2013 at 12:46 AM

    Mmmm, I love poaching eggs in things. Soups, sauces, mashed potatoes (okay, that one was weird)... though I have never used peppers. When I buy them, I usually eat them before getting a chance to cook them! But next time I buy them I'll have to save a few, this looks too good :)

  9. Very festive looking!!

  10. These eggs sure are proving popular...must be a sign! The colours & flavours are all just so appealing, I reckon perfect for breakfast lunch or dinner!!


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