How I Like My Eggs in the Morning
How I Like MY EGGS IN THE MORNING
Most people will be familiar with that old-time classic tune where Dean Martin couldn’t answer the simple question of how he likes his eggs in the morning. Helen O’Connell even narrows it down for him with boiled or fried, yet he persists with evading the matter at hand, cheesily demanding a kiss. We do finally get some sense out of him with his claim that eggs can be blissful, and this is certainly a word I’d use to describe one of my favourite ways to have eggs in the morning. While there are many variations - shakshuka in its most common form is essentially poached eggs in a spicy tomato sauce, seasoned with cumin and paprika. My version is fortunately not served with a kiss, but there is plenty of crumbled feta to give it at least some cheesiness.
The exact origin of this dish is debated. Clearly a breakfast staple in Israel, it is thought that this adored dish arrived with the immigration of North Africans. In this vein, many believe that the inspiration for shakshuka was born in countries like Tunisia and Morocco. Other food historians point to Yemen to explain its inception. This debate, while undoubtably interesting, is not that important. What is important is that irrespective of where shakshuka is from, countless countries have embraced, adjusted, and loved this dish in many, many ways. I enjoy the combination of a runny yolk with salty feta, but other versions introduce other ingredients. For instance, Spanish style shakshuka features their celebrated manchego cheese and smoky chorizo. In Italy, there is a Neapolitan dish called ‘Uova in Purgatorio’. Translated to mean ‘eggs in purgatory’, this very simple version uses lots of olive oil, parsley and parmesan. Moving to Scandinavia, it was only the other day that I was reading about a Swedish green shakshuka, that instead of tomatoes uses spinach, cream and butter. Basically, everyone loves shakshuka.
The universal love for shakshuka is plain, and this is largely because of the space for interpretation. Shakshuka literally means ‘a mixture’, which obviously gives rather a lot of wiggle room for countries to put their own stamp on this dish. Aside from this - shakshuka is both easy and cheap to make, using basic ingredients and benefitting from only needing one pot. The recipe below is incredibly straightforward, and I’d recommend serving it with some crusty bread to dip in the oozing yolk.
Shakshuka (Serves 3)
2 tablespoons of sunflower oil
1 large onion, diced
2-3 cloves of garlic, diced
1 red bell pepper, chopped
100g tomato puree
1 heaped teaspoon of cumin
1 heaped teaspoon of smoked paprika
1 heaped teaspoon of cayenne pepper
Salt and black pepper to taste
100 g of crumbled feta
Handful of fresh coriander
In a medium lidded frying pan add the sunflower oil.
Add the chopped onion and pepper and fry off for around 5 minutes on a medium heat.
Add the garlic and stir frequently to avoid burning.
Once the garlic gives off its cooked aroma, add the passata and tomato puree
Add the spices and stir thoroughly before leaving to simmer for 10 minutes.
Make 6 wells in the sauce, turn the heat up, and then carefully crack the eggs into each well.
Cook until the eggs are cooked to your liking. Put the lid on the pan to help ensure the yolk is cooked. Be careful not to overcook the eggs as part of the joy of this dish is the runny yolk!
When cooked, season with some more black pepper. Use your hands to crumble the feta evenly over the dish.
Add the coriander and then serve with fresh bread.
Why not try Nigella’s recipe for Eggs in Purgatory here