Shabbat Meals: Indian Shakshuka
My happiest memories of my father are of mid afternoon Fridays, the only time we would find him in the kitchen. A flock of six kids, like turtles making their journey back to the sea, trekking back home tired and famished on mid afternoon Fridays.
A couple of my younger siblings, walking a few miles back home from school, moments ago just jolted out of their seats in their classrooms, at the much awaited sound of the bell signaling the end of school week and freedom.
Another brother or a sister, stepping back home, dusty from an excursion on the patchy green, mostly sandy play area or from a playful ride outside on our lone brand new bike. I am hitchhiking in the scorching sun, from my army base somewhere in central Israel and heading home south, after an entire week or two of being away. Us all famished and cannot wait for Friday night Shabbat dinner.
While my mother scurries in her small kitchen, in the midst of preparation of a traditional Indian Shabbat dinner, she allots one burner for my father and his mid afternoon Friday attempts to ease our hunger and soothe our stomachs, with his claim to culinary fame, shakshuka.
I enter our home to the sights of windows and doors wide open, sheer curtains are standing still, longing for a late afternoon, early evening, cool Mediterranean sea breeze, and aromas of my father’s, made to order, Shakshuka or my sisters rolling out, thin crust pizza doughs. Scents of quintessential North African cuisine flow through our wide open windows from our Moroccan neighbors’ preparations of a traditional Friday night couscous, instead of the elusive cool sea breezes.
My father, a jokester, would cook on those Fridays with much ceremony, air and laughter. Kidding around and playfully teasing us all the while. Not letting us dig into the dish or hurry the process. He was meticulous. We would beg for him to hurry but he liked the shakshuka just so, just like his tailored made pants and button down shirts, perfectly measured by a neighborhood tailor nearby.
I share with you an Indian version of the shakshuka , poached eggs in curry sauce. Curry powder is a blend of fresh spices that usually consists of some if not all of these ingredients: red chili pepper, turmeric, black pepper, cardamom, coriander, cumin, ginger, clove, cinnamon, fennel, mustard and more. The ratio and proportion of the curry spice blend widely varies from state to state in India, region by region and from one household to another based on the dish you cook and personal preference. Nowadays you can find curry powder in any mainstream supermarket in the United States or in your neighborhood Indian grocers if you happen to live in or by a major metropolitan area. For the purposes of this recipe a straight forward curry powder from the spice isle in your nearby supermarket will do wonders with this shakshuka.
Indian Shakshuka — Poached Eggs in Curry Sauce
4 tablespoons canola oil
1 large onion, diced
1 jalapeno or other green chili, sliced
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 medium/large tomatoes, diced
1 teaspoon curry powder
Salt to taste
1 cup water
Garnish: Handful cilantro leaves
For serving: Baguettes
In a large pan, heat up oil on low/medium heat. Add the onion to oil and saute for a couple of minutes. Add the jalapeno and garlic and keep sauteing for a few minutes longer until the onions are translucent and the mixture is soft. Stir once or twice. This process is very quick. No need to caramelize onions.
Stir in tomatoes to onion mix and cook for a few minutes longer until the tomatoes cook through and are super soft. Add curry powder and salt to taste and mix. Add water, bring to a bubble and reduce heat.
Crack eggs into curry sauce and let cook until desired doneness. If you like the poached eggs runny it should take few minutes. If you do not like your poached eggs runny, put a tight lid on your pot, and cook covered for a few minutes, until egg yolks firm up a bit. Garnish with a handful of cilantro leaves and serve with baguettes.
We traditionally have a few loaves of challah for Shabbat, but also a few baguettes handy on Fridays, for exactly the purpose of dipping the baguettes into the Indian shakshuka curry sauce and scooping the eggs, family style, directly from the pan, or on individual plates. We save the challahs for Shabbat dinner later that evening.
Shulie Madnick is an Israeli Indian recipe developer, food and cultural writer and a food photographer. She had her recipes and photos published in Fine Cooking Magazine and Whisk Magazine, among others. You can contact her through her site