Over the phone, my mother tells me to eat more meat. I don’t really have a taste for it at the moment, and stock up on leafy spinach and salad leaves, a box of earthy mushrooms, fleshy avocados and versatile sweet potatoes instead. There’s always eggs and cheese in the fridge too.
More so than meat, I crave bread: fresh white loaves, soft and scented inside, sliced and smeared with salted butter, are the stuff of my simple foodie dreams. Sometimes, I like to think of things I could make that warrant a piece of bread on the side, and Shakshuka, a Middle-Eastern tomato-based egg dish, is nothing without an accompanying hunk of bread.
Shakshuka is everywhere: on Instagram, in the Sunday Times supplement; food blogs, hip cafes. I wanted to give it a go myself because it’s economical and comprised of things I already have: a tin of tomatoes; an egg; spice. The recipe below is the most basic, but traditionally there are red peppers in there too. Or even crumbly cubes of feta, or creamy nuggets of goats cheese, a smattering of spinach or kale.
As tomatoes are the principle ingredient, I stretched my budget a bit and picked up a tastier brand of tin tomatoes than the cheap own-brand option I would usually go for. It makes a bit of a difference. Needless to mention, I took immense pleasure in scooping up the chunky tomato mixture with torn up sourdough; dabbing in the sunny dribble of yellow yolk.
Suitable for brunch, a warm lunch or an easy supper.
You will need for one:
A small tin of chopped tomatos (I used a 227g tin of Napolina chopped tomatoes)
A small chunk of white onion (about a quarter), chopped up extremely fine
A generous hand of flat leaf parsley
A grating of Parmesan
A thumbnail piece of red chilli, deseeded and finely sliced
About half a tsp of sugar
About half a tsp of Tikka spice (or Cayenne pepper)
About a quarter of a tsp of dried chilli flakes
Salt and black pepper
Olive oil for frying
A piece of bread such as white sourdough on the side, a flatbread would be tasty too
Fry the onions gently in a small frying pan. Add the tin of tomatoes, the chilli, Tikka, salt and pepper, and the sugar. Bring to the boil and then allow to simmer.
Make a little pit in the tomato mixture and crack an egg into the space. Season the egg with salt and pepper and the dried chilli flakes. Place a lid over the pan to allow the egg to cook.
Once the egg is cooked to liking, scatter over the parsley and Parmesan.
Serve with warmed bread, dunking straight into the pan if preferred.