Filled with Indian flavors, sliced bell pepper, fresh plum tomatoes, healthy spinach and sunny little eggs, this South Asian Spiced Shakshuka is the perfect vegetarian option for a lovely brunch!
As I’m sure you’re aware, Mother’s Day is this Sunday. In celebration, I have a pair of recipes to share with you this week – This South Asian Spiced Shakshuka with Bell Pepper and Spinach, and later, a lovely prosecco cocktail, the Strawberry Daiquiri Bellini. Both are inspired by my own mother (Hi Mom!), and I hope you like them too.
My mom is vegetarian, and she loves eggs. While the second is something we both share, the first is relatively new (within the last couple of years), and until recently I’d often forget. Having grown up with a mom that loved eating burgers and shrimp, it took some reminding now that we don’t see and eat with each other everyday. I’d like to think I’ve gotten better about remembering, and luckily there are plenty of cuisines we both like that feature vegetarian options. In any case, I knew whatever I shared with you for Mother’s Day would have to meet the requirements of my own mom.
Cue a beautiful dish called a shakshuka:
These pretty tomato-based egg dishes have been all over Pinterest for awhile, and for good reason. The perfectly cooked eggs nestled neatly in a variety of vegetables are so photogenic! While the shakshuka itself has Middle Eastern and North African origins, the dish bears strong resemblance to other tomato and egg recipes from other parts of the world. This dish easily could have been called by the name of its Indian or Italian counterparts (Bombay Eggs or Eggs in Purgatory, respectively). Shakshuka is so much fun to say though. It’s no surprise that this is the name that’s stuck.
This particular shakshuka recipe is inspired by a number of sources and flavor profiles. The greatest influences come from Meera Sodha’s recipe for Bombay Eggs in her excellent cookbook, Made in India and Melissa Clark’s shakshuka recipe in her cookbook, Dinner: Changing the Game (which I’ve already raved about). For the uninitiated, I guess it’s kind of like a reverse omelet – the eggs go into the vegetables, rather than the vegetables into the eggs!
Ultimately, I wanted to make a version with a reasonable number of ingredients and a bit of spice for flavor. Something that could very easily be pulled together from fresh ingredients.
The key to a great shakshuka is cooking the eggs just right, so that the whites are set but the yolks aren’t overdone in the final product. While I’ve read about techniques for doing this on the stovetop (usually by covering your pan with foil as the eggs finish cooking), I much prefer the oven method I describe in the recipe below. I feel like it gives me a little more control over the process. The cook times also seem a little more reliable. Otherwise I’m constantly removing the foil and letting the heat out as I check for doneness. This is especially true on the new apartment’s glass-top stove (which is so slow to heat and so slow to cool!), but that might just be me?
If you don’t have an oven-safe skillet yet, I highly suggest getting yourself an inexpensive cast iron piece. From the photos, you can see that I have this 10” Lodge Cast Iron Skillet, bought specifically for stove-top to oven preparations. It’s definitely a nice thing to have for dishes like this.
Anyway, I hope you like this purely vegetarian, totally seasonal, absolutely delicious South Asian Spiced Shakshuka with Bell Peppers and Spinach. Enjoy it for Mother’s Day Brunch, or really any meal where you want to impress with some fancy eggs!
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South Asian Spiced Shakshuka with Bell Pepper and Spinach
- 2 Tbsp vegetable oil
- 1 large yellow or orange bell pepper, thinly sliced
- 1 jalapeno, diced small
- 1 tsp salt, plus more to taste
- 1/2 tsp cumin
- 1/2 tsp coriander
- 1/4 tsp ground turmeric
- 1/2 tsp ground ginger
- 1 lb plum tomatoes, chopped (about 2 cups)
- 1/2 tsp black pepper
- 1 large bay leaf
- 1 tsp sugar
- 5 oz fresh spinach
- 4 large eggs
- Optional: fresh cilantro, fresh chives, fresh bread, soft cheese crumbles (farmer’s cheese, goat cheese, feta, etc.)
Heat oven to 375°F. Heat the vegetable oil in an oven-safe skillet over medium-high heat. Add the sliced bell pepper, diced jalapeno, and a pinch of salt. Reduce heat to medium, and cook for 5-8 minutes until vegetables are soft. Stir in the cumin, coriander, turmeric, cayenne pepper, and ground ginger and cook for an additional 1 minute.
Stir in the chopped tomatoes, 1 tsp salt, ½ tsp black pepper, and the bay leaf. Cook over medium heat for 15 minutes, stirring often, until the mixture has thickened and the tomatoes have broken down. If the mixture starts to burn or get too thick, add 1 Tbsp water. Add the sugar, then stir in the spinach and allow it to wilt, 1-2 minutes.
While this is cooking, prepare the eggs, which will need to be added to the skillet in quick succession. I crack each egg into an individual cup or ramekin in case a yolk breaks prematurely or a bit of shell falls in, but you can prepare to crack them directly in to the pan if you prefer. With a spoon, make enough small wells for your number of eggs in your vegetable mixture and pour (or crack) each egg into its own well. Season each with a pinch of salt and pepper.
Transfer the skillet to the oven, and bake until just set, about 7-10 minutes. Keep an eye on the eggs, as they can overcook quickly if you aren’t careful (which is still delicious, but may deprive you of the beautiful runny yolk). Remove from oven.
Serve each egg warm, nestled in a vegetable sauce “nest” and garnished with fresh herbs and crumbles of soft cheese, as you prefer. Accompany with toast or hunks of hearty fresh bread for dipping.
Adjusting the Recipe for More People: With a large enough skillet, you could easily double the recipe (although you might only be able to fit 6 eggs in the pan rather than 8, depending on your deftness, the size, and how crowded you want the end result to be).