Shakshuka will always be the dish that reminds me of the beginning of my relationship with Signor Pot. It reminds me of a time when weekends were really precious and there was a need to fill them up so they became extra long escapes from a non-creative desk job week. They were filled with daytime exploring the city, dancing all night, perhaps a few too many cocktails and Sunday morning sleep ins. Since Saturdays were so ‘productive’ it was easy to let Sundays take their course with no expectations. Sunday mornings were all about Signor Pot dancing to jazz and making Shakshuka in his underwear. Aside from toast and vegemite, I’ve never been the savoury breakfast type, but the enthusiasm for Shakshuka was infectious and is perhaps the thing that I love about Signor Pot the most, his excitement for things spurs me into foreign territory and hopefully makes me a little less judgemental. He’s the sort of person that gets you to close your eyes while he feeds you something mysterious (this completely freaks me out as I’m a total control freak and the thought of not knowing what I’m eating repulses me). He’s always up for eating bizarre things when he travels and he rarely ever judges before he tries something. There’s a sense of innocent optimism which I definitely don’t posses but am in complete admiration of.
I love how certain foods can take us right back to moments in relationships. There are so many dishes that I associate with certain people and certain food traditions that evolve through friendships which I find really fascinating. Certain meals at certain restaurants are almost sacred and cannot be shared with just anyone. There are so many connections in my life made over food and it is these moments that I am constantly striving to share with others. Food always offers the perfect excuse for an adventure, a common necessity which can bring us all together and result in beautiful shared experiences.
I’d love to know what foods you connect with certain people and why?
Share your memories in the comments below and maybe we can inspire some new food traditions among us.
• 2 Tbsp olive oil
• 1 red onion, finely diced
• 2 garlic cloves, finely diced
• 1 large red chili, finely chopped
• 2 Tbsp. cumin seeds
• 1 Tbsp. Ras El Hanout (We use Ottolenghi’s recipe from his book ‘Jerusalem’)
• 1 generous Tbsp harissa paste
• 2 tomatoes, roughly diced
• 1 red capsicum, diced
• 1 tin diced Italian tomatoes
• 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
• Sea salt (to taste)
• 4 eggs
• 1/2 cup fresh coriander, roughly chopped (to serve)
• Greek plain yoghurt (to serve)
• crusty bread (to serve)
Preheat oven to 180°C.
Dry roast cumin seeds in a pan on low heat. Once fragrant, remove from heat and grind in a mortar and pestle. Reserve 10% for the garnish
In a large ovenproof skillet, pour olive oil and add onion. Fry on a medium to low heat until soft and translucent. (You will be using one skillet the whole way through. So make sure it can go in the oven i.e. no plastic bits)
Add garlic and chilli and fry for 1-2 minutes, being careful not to burn the garlic
Add cumin and half the Ras El Hanout and fry for a further 30 seconds
Add the harissa paste and continue frying for 1 minute
Once a thick and fragrant paste has formed, add tomatoes and capsicum (this will halt the cooking process and avoid burning)
Cook until tomatoes have broken down and capsicum has softened, roughly 10 mins
Add can of tomato, stir through and reduce on stovetop for roughly 15 minutes. Adjust seasoning with salt at this point.
Once sauce has thickened, add the remaining Ras el Hanout, if you require a stronger flavour. You can also add some cayenne at this point to boost the spice profile. Careful not to overpower the dish though.
Once you have the perfect balance, make indentations in different spots with the back of your spoon and crack your eggs into the indentations.
Transfer to the oven. Cooking time may vary, so keep checking the eggs. This process shouldn’t last more than 7 minutes in a preheated oven. Look for the whites of the egg turning solid / opaque.
For the added bonus of a rustic charred finish, switch the oven to grill towards the end. Keep watch! This speeds up the egg cooking process dramatically, so check the eggs every 30 seconds to see the yolk doesn’t solidify. Keep the oven door open during this process. It’s important to note that the residual heat also cooks the egg.
IMPORTANT: You want the egg yolk to be runny so it melts into the dish.
Sprinkle with some coriander and add a dollop of natural yoghurt to serve. Be amazed by your cooking prowess and enjoy your delicious warm feast. Don’t forget to mop up your bowl with your crusty bread!