yotam ottolenghi’s shakshuka

January 24, 2011


Ottolenghi is just one in a list of reasons I have to be sad that I don’t live in north London.

Being a British transplant living in the States certainly has its ups and downs. Nowadays the ups are surely more prominent than the downs. I love Minneapolis and my life here so much. But I am still a transplant. There are still a bunch of people across an ocean who I’d be much happier being just across a lake from.

So, aside from my family and my friends, what do I miss about England?

* the english countryside.
* centuries old buildings, steeped in history.
* going out for Indian food with a huge group of my friends, drinking too much wine, and spilling curry on my top.
* cups of tea being as standard a part of the day as waking and breathing.
* bacon sandwiches.
* the national sense of humour.
* pasties and (savoury) pies.

Important stuff, people.

If I lived in England now, it would be in London. I didn’t grow up there but it’s where my siblings and friends live and it’s where my heart is half of the time. When it’s not paying attention to Minneapolis, that is.

London is an easy city to love. I could count the umpteen ways but let’s just talk about this one itty bitty reason since it’s as good as any. It’s called Ottolenghi.


What if I had this place on my doorstep? I would go there all the bleeding time, that’s what if.

And what on earth is Ottolenghi? Well, it’s a food shop and a restaurant. But it’s also a person. To me, it’s also a series of weekly articles and severalbooks. [By the way, you can read about how the chance meeting of a Palestinian and an Israeli led to the opening of what are now some of the most popular food shops in London, in this Gourmet magazine article.]

Ottolenghi: The Cookbook has been on my Christmas list since roughly January 2010. I’ve already told you; I want it badly. You probably will too once you delve into these recipes.

In the mean time, until your book arrives, we have the Guardian which features Yotam Ottolenghi in that column I mentioned. It’s called The new vegetarian. Be prepared to be inspired. Don’t you love finding new foods and dishes from cultures you’re not that familiar with?

I made something pretty similar to this a while back but it was nowhere near as flavourful as this beauty, despite operating on the same concept. That’ll be the cumin seeds, bay leaves, thyme, parsley, coriander, and cayenne pepper then.

Dan and I enjoyed this just as you find it below, but we thought it would have been lovely alongside some fluffy white rice. Just a thought for an addition if you’re extra hungry.

Yotam Ottolenghi’s Shakshuka

by Yotam Ottolenghi, adapted from The Guardian

(serves two)

  • 1/4 tsp cumin seeds
  • 3.2 oz olive oil or vegetable oil
  • 1 large onions, peeled and sliced
  • 1 red and 1 yellow pepper, cored and cut into strips
  • 2 tsp muscovado sugar
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 3 sprigs thyme, picked and chopped
  • 1 tbsp flat-leaf parsley, chopped
  • 1/2 bunch fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 3 ripe tomatoes, roughly chopped
  • Pinch of cayenne pepper
  • Salt and pepper
  • Up to 1/2 cup water
  • 4 free-range eggs


  1. In a large saucepan, dry-roast the cumin on high heat for two minutes. Add the oil and sauté the onions for two minutes. Add the peppers, sugar, bay leaf, thyme, parsley and two tablespoons of cilantro, and cook on high heat to get a nice colour. Add the tomatoes, cayenne, salt and pepper. Cook on low heat for 15 minutes, adding enough water to keep it the consistency of a pasta sauce. Taste and adjust the seasoning. It should be potent and flavoursome. You can prepare this mix in advance.
  2. Place two saucepans on medium heat and divide the mixture between them. Break two eggs into each pan, pouring into gaps in the mixture. Sprinkle with salt, cover and cook very gently for 10-12 minutes, until the egg just sets. Sprinkle with cilantro and serve with chunky white bread.
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