Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Chakchouka Recipe

Chakchouka or shakshouka is a style of vegetable cooking from the Middle East and the Mahgreb (the North African countries bordering the Mediterranean especially in Algeria and Tunisia. Chakchouka is popular as a breakfast dish. Most recipes include the eggs, but they can actually be left out if you like.

Ingredients - 4-6 servings
  • 3 tablespoons Olive oil
  • 1-2 tablespoons Paprika
  • 1 Onion, thinly sliced
  • 2-3 cloves Garlic, minced
  • 3 Tomatoes, peeled, seeded and diced
  • 2-3 Green and red bell peppers, diced
  • 1 cup Water
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 4 Eggs (optional)
  • Heat the oil in a deep skillet over medium flame. Stir in the paprika and cook slighly to color the oil, about 10-15 seconds. Add the onions and garlic and sauté until the onions are translucent and wilted but not browned, about 5 minutes.
  • Add the tomatoes and cook for 3-4 minutes to reduce down a little bit. Add the peppers, water and salt and pepper and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer for about 10 minutes. Add more water as needed to keep it from drying out.
  • Using a spoon, form four small indentations in the simmering peppers to hold the eggs. One by one, crack the eggs into a small bowl and slip each from the bowl into an indentation. Cover and simmer for another 10 minutes or so until eggs are cooked through.
  • Serve with crusty bread, pita or rice.
  • Add 1 teaspoon of cumin seed to the hot oil for about 15 seconds before you add the paprika. Add 2-3 teaspoons of ground coriander along with the onions.
  • For a little spice, sauté 1 tablespoon of harissa paste or a minced chile pepper with the onions.
  • Sometimes fresh shrimp or a spicy lamb sausage called merguez is added to the simmering peppers along with the eggs.
  • Add 1 small, diced eggplant along with the peppers.
  • Add 1 potato, cut in a small dice, along with the peppers.
  • Sprinkle the top of the cooked dish with chopped parsley or cilantro.
  • Add a few olives and capers and eliminate the eggs. Chill and serve garnished with hard-boiled eggs or tuna.
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