Shakshuka has roots in North Africa but is practically the national dish of our Middle Eastern mystery country. This country is a cultural melting pot, with Eastern and Central European, Mediterranean, North African, and Middle Eastern culinary influences (not to mention Balkan, Ethiopian, Yemini, North American, Iberian…)

There are many variations on Shakshuka, but basically it is a stewy mix of peppers and tomatoes in which eggs are poached. Eaten with good, crusty bread, it’s nutritionally balanced, with complex flavor that manages to be intense and mellow at the same time. Click here for a recipe.

This mystery country is increasingly known as a food and wine destination. See our Culinary Tour for a glimpse of the possibilities.


Can you name that country? 
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Shakshuka: Breakfast the Israeli Way

Here's my attempt at Ottolenghi's Shakshuka recipe. It's not as pretty as his but tasted divine.

Here’s my attempt at Ottolenghi’s Shakshuka recipe. It’s not as pretty as his but tasted divine.

Shakshuka is a North African dish eaten all over the Middle East and is a special favorite in Israel. It’s commonly eaten for breakfast but is delicious anytime, anywhere. One of many variations is to sprinkle with feta cheese, which I plan to try next time.

This recipe is from Yotam Ottolenghi’s fabulous vegetarian cookbook Plenty.
Check out all of his cookbooks (not all vegetarian) here. Ottolenghi grew up in Israel and is credited by many with starting the recent Middle Eastern/Mediterranean-food renaissance (in the U.K. and U.S. at least), heavy on vegetables, legumes and grains. He runs the restaurants Ottolenghi and Nopi in London.

½ tsp cumin seeds
¾ cup light olive oil or vegetable oil
2 large onions sliced
2 red bell peppers, cut into ¾-inch strips
2 yellow peppers, cut into ¾-inch stips
4 tsp muscovado sugar
2 bay leaves
6 thyme sprigs, leaves picked and chopped
2 tbsp parsley
2 tbsp chopped cilantro, plus extra to garnish
6 ripe tomatoes, roughly chopped
½ tsp saffron threads
Pinch of cayenne pepper
Salt and black pepper to taste
Up to 1 1/8 cups water
8 eggs

In a very large pan dry-roast the cumin seeds on high heat for 2 minutes. Add the oil and onions and saute for 5 minutes. Add the peppers, sugar and herbs and continue cooking on high heat for 5-10 minutes to get a nice color.

Add the tomatoes, saffron, cayenne and salt and pepper. Reduce the heat to low and cook for 15 minutes. During the cooking keep adding water so that the mix has a pasta sauce consistency. Taste and adjust the seasoning. It should be potent and flavorful. (You can prepare this mix well in advance.)

Remove the bay leaves, then divide the pepper mix among four deep frying pans, each large enough to take a generous individual portion. Place them on medium heat to warm up, then make two gaps in the pepper mix in each pan and carefully break an egg into each gap. Sprinkle with salt and cover the pans with lids. Cook on a very (!) gentle heat for 10 to 12 minutes, or until the eggs are just set. Sprinkle with cilantro and serve.

Eat with thick, crusty bread.

Visit Israel with Ya’lla Tours and enjoy Shakshuka at Yotam Ottolenghi’s favorite –
Dr. Shakshuka in Jaffa/Tel Aviv.