Shakshuka

Cookbook
Classic Turkish Cooking, pp. 224
by Ghillie Basan
IB Tauris, London–New York, 1997, reprinted 2011
Cooking on page 64 (no photo, recipe spills on to page 65)

I first saw this cookbook in Turkey in 2011. It waved to me proudly from a shelf in a tourist-trap gift shop at some historic site. The price tag was a hefty A$50. I wavered briefly—should I buy it? Then sensibly decided that I didn’t need any additional load for the five months of truck travel ahead. It helped that I then found it on the Book Depository website for half the price, so I ordered it while I was travelling.

Page 32 has descriptions of the various nuts popular in Turkish cooking—almonds (badem), chestnuts (kestane), hazelnuts (findik), pine nuts (çam fistik), pistachios (antep fistik) and walnuts (ceviz). Page 132 has a colourful picture of fish. So we landed on page 64 today.

Recipe—Shakshuka

Ingredients
2 aubergines (eggplants), partially peeled in zebra stripes, cut into quarters lengthways and sliced
1 courgette (zucchini), cut in half lengthways and sliced
sunflower oil for deep frying
1 red bell pepper, cut into bite-size pieces
1 tomato, optional
3–4 tablespoons süzme (thick strained yogurt)
3–4 cloves garlic, crushed with salt
salt and freshly ground pepper

Method
Soak the aubergine and courgette slices in salted water for one hour. Drain and squeeze out the excess water.

Heat the oil in a shallow pan and fry the aubergine, courgette and red pepper until golden, Drain on kitchen paper. Grill the tomato, remove the skin, and chop roughly.

Beat the yogurt with the garlic and season to taste.

Put the aubergine, courgette and pepper in a bowl and fold in the tomato and yogurt mixture. Serve with pidé or fresh bread.

How it played out
I have several excellent cookbooks by Ghillie Basan. So far, all the recipes I’ve tried have been clear and reliable, but this one puzzled me a bit. I never think of deep-frying in a shallow pan, plus I’ve never had a deep-fried version of shakshuka.

So after I soaked the eggplant and zucchini for about 45 minutes and then drained them well, I shallow-fried them—in just under a 1/2 cup of vegetable oil. I chucked the eggplant, zucchini and bell pepper (capsicum) in together for about 5 minutes and then added the diced tomato. I let it all cook until softened.

I then stirred in the yogurt, garlic and salt mixture—my yogurt was already super thick, so there was no need to drain it.

The verdict
Loved it as made. I’m sure I’ll make this often. Maybe one day, I’ll try a deep-fried approach, but it’s probably not worth the extra calories. 

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About leggypeggy

Intrepid overland traveller, keen photographer, avid cook—known to jump out of airplanes and do other silly things. Do not act my age.
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