Feasts from the Middle East: Aubergine Shakshuka (Shakshuka Batenjan)
Kitous says: “My mum used to make this favourite of mine for me, my brothers and my sister. Breakfast was pretty busy for her with seven of us to feed, but she could rustle this up quickly and sometimes she made it for lunch instead. If she was really pressed for time, instead of waiting for the eggs to set, she’d scramble them into the tomato mixture, which I loved. Here I’ve married the classic with one of my favourite ingredients, aubergine. You must make the sauce in an ovenproof frying pan, as the eggs are baked right at the end. Just 5 minutes in a hot oven is all it takes for the whites to set and the yolks to still be soft and runny.”
Aubergine Shakshuka (Shakshuka Batenjan)
olive oil, for frying
2 large aubergines, sliced into rounds
½ red onion, sliced
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
8 large tomatoes on the vine, chopped
125ml tomato juice
½ tsp salt
½ tsp black pepper
½ tsp cumin (optional)
6 large eggs
100g feta cheese, roughly chopped
a few parsley sprigs and
a large mint sprig
warm pitta bread
Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a large frying pan. Season the aubergine slices and fry them in batches for 3–4 minutes on each side, until golden and tender, adding more oil as necessary. Transfer the slices to a plate as they are cooked.
Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a medium frying pan and sauté the onion gently over a low-to-medium heat for about 8 minutes, stirring every now and then, until softened. Stir in the garlic and cook for a further minute.
Tip the tomatoes into the pan along with any juice and stir into the onion. Cook for 8 minutes until the tomatoes have broken down and softened – they should be a pulp. Pour in the tomato juice and cook, again over a low heat, for 5 minutes. The sauce will be quite thick by this stage. Season with salt, black pepper and the cumin, if using. Spread a layer of aubergine slices over a large, ovenproof dish, then spoon over half the tomato sauce. Repeat to make two layers.
Make a hole in the sauce with the back of a large spoon and crack an egg into it. Do the same all-round the dish until you’ve positioned all the eggs. Scatter over the feta. Bake in the oven for 5 minutes. Pick the leaves off the parsley and mint sprigs, and chop roughly. Scatter over the shakshuka and serve with the warm pitta bread.
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