Tuesday, 30 April 2013

Sun rises from Middle East: Shakshouka

Even if the night out in Tel Aviv runs a little late, the help is always near. At the corner of Allenby street and Bialik street to be precise. There, in the neighbourhood of Carmel market is one of my favourite cafés in the world: Cafe Bialik. It is open from early morning to late evening and comes with an eclectic clientele. At the same time you'll have people nursing themselves back to life after another Tel Aviv night out at one table, ladies who lunch at another and constructions workers enjoying their first beer of the day at the third.

Sometimes they do jazz clubs. Sometimes poetry recitals. But most of all they do breakfast - served all day. And not just any breakfast: shakshouka - the ultimate cure-all remedy. Cafe Bialik is the place where I had my first ever shakshouka all those years ago and it's become a bit of a  must have for me, especially with spicy merguez sausage.

After I found those luscious merguez sausages at Roslund I didn't have to think twice what to do with them. Sure you could skip the sausages and make this all vegetarian... or you could use some other, equally potent variety such as chorizo. Or, use a good fresh lamb sausage and add 1-2 tsp harissa paste into the tomatos.

Boker tov, dear friends!

Feeds 2

100 g (merguez)sausages
1 small onion or 1/2 of a bigger one, roughly chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1/2 tsp chilli powder
1/2 tsp pimentón/ paperika powder
1/2 tsp cumin, ground
1/2 tsp coriander seeds, ground
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/2 green pepper, in 1 cm dices
1/2 yellow pepper, in 1 cm dices
1/2 -1 tin crushed tomatos
2 eggs
handful of parsley
salt, pepper

Squeeze the sausages out of their skins and brown in a pan in a little bit of oil. Cut the sausages into slices and brown. Then add onion, garlic and spices. Let it all soften a bit in the sausage fat. If the sausages are very lean, add some oil to stop the goodies from burning. 

Then add peppers, leaving them to often for a couple of minutes, too. Toss them around with the rest of the ingredients for a while and then stir in the crushed tomatos  (the exact amount depends of the exact size of the peppers and sausages) and, if using, harissa. Let the peppers cook in the sauce under the lid until they've softened, for about 10 minutes. If the mixture is very liquid, increase the heat and cook without the lid. 

Make 2 holes into the mix and break the eggs into them. Cover with lid and cook over moderate heat until the eggs start to set. You could also finish cooking the dish in a pre-heated oven (200).  Cook until the eggs are done to your liking and season. I like it when the white has started to set but the yolk is still gloriously golden and runny as you cut into it (about 5 minutes).

Sprinkle some parsley on top, serve with bread to soak up every last morsel and feel the energy slowly but surely being restored...

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