You know when you have overindulged the night before and need something to righten your path for the day ahead – well this is the answer – Shakshuka or Eggs in a spicy tomato sauce. It is Middle Eastern in origin but is happy to have whatever twist you want to give it. It is a wonderful, spicy, tasty, cheap one pan meal that won’t hurt your head too much to make. A bowl of this with copious mugs of tea and a pile of hot buttered toast will help salve the regret that creeps in the morning after! Having said that I often make this for dinner for just the two of us when we are too tired to cook anything else and the kids are in bed having been palmed off with a bowl of pasta. So it is equally good with a glass or two of red as it is with a mug of tea. Basically it is one of those wonderful dishes that will be whatever you want it to be.
I like two eggs but am naturally greedy so I make this amount for two – I would say this is enough sauce for three just add more eggs if needed. Its not really a recipe just a throwing of ingredients into a pan and shaking them around, so bear with me and I will give you the gist:
Add a glug of oil to a wide pan (saute or frying pan – a lid is essential but improvise if not). Add a finely sliced onion and cook over a medium heat until it glistens. I really like chorizo so I add a handful of chorizo sliced and fry until it releases its wonderful scent and orange oil which slicks over the onions. Throw in some strips of red and yellow pepper (or whatever colour you have) and a couple of chopped /crushed garlic cloves, fry until softened. Add half a teaspoon of cumin seeds, 2 teaspoons of smoked sweet paprika (life is always better with smoked paprika), a pinch of cayenne or chilli powder. Cook for a few minutes until the spices are warmed through and starting to do their magic. Pour in two tins of chopped tomatoes (or the equivalent of fresh toms), a teaspoon of sugar, bring to the boil, lower heat and let it blip away for 20 to 30 minutes. Check for seasoning and chilli heat. Make four wells in the sauce and crack in four eggs. Put the lid on (a glass one is great as you can see how the eggs are cooking). Cook until the eggs are lightly poached – 8 to 10 minutes. (Don’t wander off and lose interest at this point as you need the eggs to be perfect) instead busy yourself making some toast and tea or pour the wine. Spoon into warmed bowls – sprinkle over some chopped coriander if you have it. Its not a pretty dish but it really does the trick.
I have been known to make this with sausage if I don’t have any chorizo but feel free to leave the meat out all together – add mushrooms, chick peas or beans or anything that takes your fancy. Diced courgette or aubergine fried with the onion also works. Feel fee to adjust the chilli heat to your taste – I am a wimp so you may need to up it! You get the gist don’t you? Its not a strict recipe just throw in what takes your fancy just get the tomato sauce and eggs right. I insist that the toast or bread (especially sough dough) is essential to mop up all those smokey, tomato, eggy juices.