Monash Cook-Off #8: Shakshuka

Written by: Patricia In Wan Ting

Featuring: Wan Poh Yee

Is it tomato soup? Some egg dish? What is it? I must have it in my mouth. 

BF-PohyeeShakshuka – pronounced like it’s spelt

This dish is called Shakshuka. Shakshuka literally means ‘a mixture’, and traditional versions of this dish use tomatoes, onions and spices as the base, with poached eggs on top. This dish is said to have its roots in North Africa-Tunisia, but it’s quite popular in the Middle East, where variations of this dish can be found mainly across Israel, Egypt and many other places.

It may look overwhelmingly grandiose, but in the Middle East, it’s simply breakfast food. A bright, flavourful way to kick start your day, usually with bread served on the side. Made of everyday ingredients, this vegetarian dish is healthy, satisfying, and relatively easy to make!

Congrats on winning the Cook-Off! Could you tell me a little about your dish?

The dish is called Shakshuka, it’s a Mediterranean dish (laughs). I didn’t know this until I Googled the recipe to make it. Basically, it’s just eggs cooked in tomato sauce with bell peppers, onions and some other spices. If you were to order it in a cafe, it will probably cost more than 10 Ringgit, but if you cook it yourself at home, it costs less than that. You just need time.

Why did you choose this dish, Poh Yee?

Okay, so, when I saw the theme for the Cook-Off, I immediately thought of the usual English breakfast set… But then I wanted to make something more unique, something I haven’t made before. And I remember seeing this dish in cafes, it’s such a pretty dish! Plus, the name is so fun to pronounce. SHAKSHUKA! So I stepped out of my comfort zone to make this.

Interesting! I’m learning a lot here too. So how exactly do you make this dish?

First of all, you cut onions and bell peppers into diced sized pieces, sauté them, add in tomato puree with fresh tomatoes, then let it simmer for around 5 to 7 minutes to let everything soften up. Next, you add in the spices. Like, cumin, chilli flakes, cayenne pepper, salt, pepper… anything really, it’s according to your taste.

(deep breath) Finally, the eggs. Crack them into your flavourful tomato sauce, and let them cook. For garnish, just sprinkle some chopped parsley and you’re done.

You’re making me hungry now, but I have to ask, did anyone special encourage you to join the cook-off?

Hmm… a friend of mine shared the post to me and encouraged me to join, so I did. No one special in particular (laughs). Just a good friend!

Alright, before you go, do you mind sharing what you plan to do with the prize money?

Probably treat myself to a nice meal. Maybe get some real cafe Shakshuka…

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