Man in the kitchen: A toast to shakshuka
I Am not a heavy drinker but every now and then I enjoy a small glass of Pinot Grigio — for example, after my nation dramatically qualified for the World Cup in Brazil last week.
I say a small glass of Pinot, but after I had woken up the following morning with a slight headache I inspected the bottle of Italian white, which it turns out I had nearly finished the night before. I concluded that the wine consumption and the morning grogginess might not be unconnected.
However, there is an upside to a hangover and that is shakshuka — the ultimate Israeli hangover cure. If you have been to Israel, you will know that the locals go mad for shakshuka — a spicy tomato and egg dish — particularly after a late night out.
Shakshuka is both much more healthy and a good deal more kosher than the British response to a hangover — the fry-up . It can also be adapted to whatever you happen to have in the house. Some include peppers, some don’t.
There are recipes which call for chillies, for paprika and for harissa, the spicy Moroccan spice paste. There is also much discussion about where shakshuka actually originates from. According to who you listen to it started out in Libya, Tunisia or Morocco but it has certainly become part of the Israeli way of life.
This is how to make it for four people. Rummage around in the kitchen for an onion, two cloves of garlic, about 500g of tomatoes and two red peppers — I think they add texture and flavour. Finely chop the onion and garlic and saute in a frying pan with a couple of tablespoons of olive oil until the onions are translucent. Roughly chop the peppers and the tomatoes (you may opt not to skin them first depending on the headache) and add to the pan with the onions and garlic then season with salt and pepper and add a teaspoon of cumin, a teaspoon of ground caraway seeds and either a chopped fresh chilli or half a teaspoon of dried chilli flakes.
Allow the mixture to bubble away for 15-20 minutes on a lowish heat until the peppers and tomatoes have collapsed, then break four eggs on top of the mixture and continue cooking until the whites have set.
Garnish with chopped coriander if you can be bothered and serve with some flatbread, a large cup of black coffee and two paracetemol.