Shakshouka – Poached eggs sent from the heaven

Shakshouka, one of my most prized recipes, bedazzler of the guests, and a heavenly pleasure to eat. I encountered this dish while browsing the internet for a new recipe, and it proved to be very tricky to make for the first few times, especially if you don’t have an oven (like me). But nonetheless, I have mastered and perfected it on my own after numerous smoke and burns. The origin of the recipe is a huge question mark — some says it is middle eastern, west Asian, but even Gordon Ramsay begs to differ, stating that this dish originates from North Africa. But hey, whereever it is from, I can assure you 100% of enjoyment of making and eating it.

shakshouka

Ingredients: 4 eggs (or more, depending on the size of your pan)

1/2 each of red, green and yellow bell peppers

2 juicy tomatoes, fresh or canned (if fresh, cut into small pieces)

1 white onion, cut on the vertical side (to make a fan-like shape of the onion)

3 cloves of garlic, chop finely

3 tablespoons of cooking oil or butter or both

chilli pepper (optional)

other vegetables such as brocolli (optional)

salt and pepper to taste

Heat cooking oil or a generous knob of butter on a pan, and fry white onions with it. Be patient with your onions and take a good 10 to 15 minutes to caramelize it — that is, to slowly draw out the flavor from the onions until it turns evenly brown. You can add a bit of water when it seems too dry.

After the onion is perfectly caramelized, throw in garlic and bell peppers, stir-fry until they release their aroma. Then, put in chopped fresh tomatoes or canned ones, cook until it forms a paste (mashing tomato chunks with your fork helps). Then, add chilli pepper and other vegetables if you want to, and add salt and pepper to taste.

The next step is to check for moisture. You don’t want it to be too watery or too dry. The perfect moisture is when you take a spoonful of the sauce, water doesn’t drizzle off your spoon. Instead, it should be thick, pasty, not runny, but everything slides off your spoon when you drop it.

After you’re done with your sauce, then the most exciting part comes: it’s time to poach your eggs! carefully make holes on the paste for the eggs to sit in. Crack the eggs and pour it on the designated holes, and cover your pan. If you have an oven, then you’re lucky — put it in and it’s basically done. If you don’t, it is slightly tricky. Cook the eggs with low heat until all the whites turn solid, and this can be achieved by keeping your full attention of the eggs. Be careful, it is easy to burn the bottom, which is why it’s important to keep it moist.

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