Monday, 25 July 2011

Shakshuka: an Aubergine Meze

shakshuka/şakşuka in garlic yogurt with fresh tomato sauce

I am confused.

Seems  there’s a huge difference between Turkish shakshuka/şakşuka and what the rest of the world calls shakshuka.  Note it’s called a meze here: it‘s served as one of the many small plates that come before the main meal, and is a traditional accompaniment to rakı, the national aniseed-based favourite drink which is VERY potent. But other people think it’s good as a brunch item or even part of lunch! The main difference is that here in Turkey, we don’t use eggs whereas all the other recipes do. So of course with eggs it is indeed a brilliant dish to offer for brunch but I can’t say it appeals to me.

In my marvellous Yotam Ottolenghi cookbook Plenty, there is a shakshuka recipe and he says it‘s a North African dish with many variations. He says that some ‘add preserved lemon, others feta and different herbs and spices.’ His recipe, true to form, includes all sorts of delectables eg cumin seeds, parsley, coriander, thyme sprigs and  even exotic saffron.  His recipes are fab but they do require just a little of many different herbs and spices. Which is fine if you have them.

But if you don’t, then here is the Turkish answer which is brilliant if you live here as you can get everything sooo easily: aubergines, and green and red peppers, served with a wonderful garlicky yogurt and topped with a simple fresh tomato sauce.  And that’s it! No onions either. It’s the kind of dish that improves with a little waiting too as all those wonderful summer tastes merge together  although you shouldn’t add the garlic yogurt or tomato sauce till you are about to serve. All the little places around our village serve shakshuka but it seems to me that this is a relatively new dish on the scene and TT confirms this. Interesting, isn’t it? I wonder how it winged its way from N Africa to here in the space of just  a few years.

Anyway, here are the ingredients for Turkish-style Şakşuka

Adapted from Alev Kaman’s Modern Türk Mutfağı

Serves 6 as a meze or side dish

4 aubergines/patlıcan

2 red peppers/kırmızı biber

2 green peppers (not the dolma ones)/yeşil biber

1tsp salt

To fry: 1 cup sunflower oil (I used ¾ cup and it was more than fine)/sıvıyağı

For the sauce:

6 tomatoes (my tomatoes were huge so I only needed 1 1/2- see pic below)

½ tsp black pepper

4 garlic cloves, crushed

1 cup strained yogurt/süzme yoğurt OR thick Greek yogurt

1 dessert spoon olive oil

½ tsp salt


·         Peel the aubergines in stripes lengthwise. Quarter lengthwise and then cut  into 3-4cm pieces. Put into a bowl and cover with salted water so that the bitter juices are released. Wait for 10 minutes.

·         Deseed the red and green peppers and then chop fairly finely.

·         For the tomato sauce:

·         Peel the tomatoes and roughly chop into small pieces. Take a small pan and add the olive oil and gently the tomatoes on a low heat. Add the salt and pepper and cook for 15 minutes.

·         Stir the strained yogurt or thick Greek yogurt and add a little water if necessary. Add the garlic and stir.

·         Rinse and drain the aubergines on kitchen paper. Pat dry.

·         In an open pan, gently fry the aubergines till soft and golden brown in the oil, a little at a time. Add more as necessary. Drain on kitchen paper to absorb excess oil. Fry the peppers in the same oil.

·         Mix the peppers with the fried aubergine and spoon onto the serving dish. When you are ready to serve, spoon the garlic yogurt on top and finish with the tomato sauce. Serve with crusty village bread.

You'll love it! Daughter No 2 and I have just polished off the remainder for lunch in between tending to Miss Eva's demands (new baby!) and we recommend it highly. Looks great, tastes great!

Afiyet olsun!

 We had dinner at one of our favourite little places called Zeytin Çiçegi/ Olive Flower right on the beach the other night: the moon rose in all its glory so I tried a would all love it!