Monday, December 16, 2013

Shakshuka. And the Farmers' Market



Moving to Islamabad, meant that life was going to change. I knew what I had signed up for. What I didn't realise was it would be so hard to leave everyone behind. That sometimes I'd be pining so badly for people that I couldn't get myself to call them. It meant that I had to get used to being alone.

But I was wrong. Because this city has been kind to me. So very kind. In the four months I have been here, I have felt happy much more than I have felt sad. And that's a good thing right?

One of the reasons I lucked out was because I ran into the Farmers' Market. The atmosphere is so warm and friendly. There's an air of camaraderie that makes you feel right at home.



This weekly event is quite the highlight for me too, especially since I get to cook live with whatever ingredients that the farmers bring that morning. It's like a brand new mystery box every week. Cooking improv has never been so much fun.

But I have to be honest here, I do cheat some weeks. Because by now, I know most of the farmers and am able to pick up the phone on Friday evenings and ask them what produce they are bringing the next day. But those are for the weeks I am completely uninspired.

Some weeks I just know what I want to make. Like this Shakshuka. Between the beautiful fresh cottage cheese and harissa and tomato relish and the desi eggs, I just knew I had to make it. I used 12 eggs for the one I made at the market, and I m not lying when I say this, but they were gone within a matter of minutes!

What's a Shakshuka you may ask me? Shakshuka is middle-eastern breakfast one-pot meal that consists of a tomato and cheese based spiced mixture with eggs poached on top. Served straight out of the pan it's cooked in, it's mopped up with large chunks of bread. You can throw in spinach if you want or any leafy vegetable to up the iron content.

Back at home, I made the recipe with two eggs, more than enough for the two of us. But feel free to up or down the recipe as per how many eggs you want to eat.




Shakshuka
Serves 2

Ingredients

1 tsp olive oil
2 tomatoes
1 clove garlic
1 red chilli
2 tsp tomato paste
1/4 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp chilli flakes (optional)
50 grams spinach chopped
50 grams masala cheese
2 eggs
Salt and Pepper to Taste
Bread to mop with

Directions

1. Wash the tomatoes and chop them roughly. Chop the clove of garlic as well.
2. In a non-stick pan add the olive oil, chilli and garlic. Let it sizzle. At the tomatoes and the tomato paste, along with salt pepper, cumin and chilli flakes. Saute for a few minutes and add the spinach
3. Cook the mix on high heat for a moment and add the cheese to it. Make two shallow holes.
4. Break the eggs on top. Sprinkle with a bit of salt and pepper. Cover and poach on low heat, till done (Or however you like the eggs)
5. Serve with a good hunk of bread



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