Toasted-Spice Shakshouka

By • February 27, 2013 2 Comments

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Toasted-Spice Shakshouka

Author Notes: Shakshouka is an addictively delicious breakfast, lunch or supper dish from the Middle East--but you can eat it anywhere, especially at my house. It is easy to adjust the recipe to serve one or many; just use a few more or less peppers and garlic cloves, or add another can of tomatoes as necessary. For my version, I referred to Claudia Roden's Book of Jewish Food. I eliminate the onion and add characteristic spices: I toast whole cumin and coriander seeds first, then mash the spices with plenty of garlic and a bit of salt to bring out the flavors. The latter is a technique I learned from Jacqueline Higuera McMahon's book, California Rancho cooking. I use a mix of fresh peppers (Cubanelle and red) and brown them in spots at the end of sauteeing. Fire-roasted tomatoes add a hint of smokiness. You can make a lot of sauce a day or two ahead, then ladle a portion into a small skillet the next morning to serve one or two before heading out the door, or save it and reheat, adding eggs, for a quick and nourishing family supper. You can crumble some rinsed mild feta over as a garnish if you wish.creamtea


Serves 4-8, depending on how many eggs you like on your plate

For the spice mixture (makes extra)

  • 1 tablespoon whole cumin seeds
  • 1 teaspoon whole coriander seeds

For the eggs

  • 3 fat cloves garlic, smashed and minced
  • 1 pinch fine sea salt
  • 3-4 tablespoons olive oil plus extra as needed
  • 1 chile japones (small hot dried red chile)
  • 1 fresh bay leaf, cracked
  • 2 cubanelle peppers
  • 2 red bell peppers, preferably the sweet, elongated variety
  • 1 28-oz can fire-roasted tomatoes
  • 1 14-oz. can-fire roasted tomatoes
  • 1 teaspoon Aleppo pepper or other mildly hot dried red pepper (if using red pepper flakes with seeds, use less according to taste)
  • 8 eggs
  • rinsed mild feta, crumbled, as a garnish (optional)
  • flat bread such as pocketless pita, wrapped in foil and warmed in oven, as an accompaniment
  1. Toast the cumin and coriander seeds in a small heavy pan over a low flame (I use a long-handled 2-cup measure held a few inches above the grid of the stove). Empty into a mortar and pestle and pound to a coarse powder or grind in an electric spice grinder. Toast the chile japones in the same manner and set aside without pounding. (Can be made ahead).
  2. Empty the ground spices into a small dish. Place the minced garlic into the mortar or spice grinder, add 1-1/2 teaspoons of the spice blend and a pinch of sea salt and pound or whizz until a coarse paste is formed. Set aside.
  3. Drizzle the olive oil into a large saute pan set over a medium low flame. When oil is hot add the chile japones, stirring and tossing a few times, and then the sliced peppers and bay leaf. Toss and saute until peppers are softened and translucent. Turn up the flame and allow to brown in spots for a few minutes, being careful not to burn.
  4. Reduce flame, allow pan to cool for about a minute, then make a small opening in the peppers. Drizzle in a little more olive oil then scrape in the spice paste. Sizzle briefly until aromatic, then stir and fry into the pepper mixture to incorporate. Remove the chile japones.
  5. Add the tomatoes and their juices, squeezing each gently before adding to break up. Stir in the Aleppo pepper. Simmer sauce until thickened. Remove bay leaf. Taste and adjust seasoning. The sauce may be prepared up to this point one day in advance and refrigerated. Before continuing, reheat to simmering.
  6. With the back of a spoon, make a depression in the sauce for each egg. Break eggs individually into a dish and slide into each depression. Cook until set, about 3-4 minutes. Ladle into individual bowls, crumble feta over, if desired, and serve hot with flat bread as an accompaniment.

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