Shakshuka (Middle Eastern baked eggs)

Shakshuka (Middle Eastern baked eggs)
I distinctly remember hoping for a normal month in November in my last post. HA! I’ve been laid low with a particularly nasty cold for the last few days, which has also coincided with the depressing news from America on Tuesday. I also haven’t done any baking yet, so I thought I’d share my recipe for Middle Eastern baked eggs, shakshuka, instead.

If you’re on Instagram, you’ve probably seen hundreds of photos of shakshuka breakfasts/brunches so far. It is a pretty photogenic dish, to be fair! However, it’s also really tasty thanks to the spicing, and is very easy to make.

The only slight downside is that it takes a little longer to make than your average scrambled eggs on toast, but it’s so worth it!

My recipe makes a rather spicy shakshuka, so feel free to dial down the chilli if you like. Also, despite the title of this post, I don’t bake the dish – I just use the hob and grill. But you can cook shakshuka pretty much any way you please (see my suggestions below).

I’ve also listed some ways you can tweak this recipe to make Indian and Mexican versions of shakshuka.

Shakshuka (Middle Eastern baked eggs) recipe

Shakshuka
Serves 2, easily halved or doubled

  • 1 tbsp sunflower or vegetable oil
  • 0.5 onion, finely chopped
  • 0.5 pepper of any colour, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped or crushed
  • 1 small green chilli, finely chopped
  • 0.5 tsp chilli flakes
  • 400g tinned chopped tomatoes
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 0.5 tsp paprika (or smoked paprika if you like)
  • 1-2 tbsp parsley, chopped
  • salt and black pepper, to taste
  • 4-5 eggs
  • 50-100g feta, crumbled, to serve (or plain yogurt works well, too)
  • toasted pittas or other bread of your choice, to serve

Method:

  1. Heat the oil in a large frying pan.
  2. Cook the onion and pepper until softened.
  3. Add the garlic, green chilli and chilli flakes, and cook for 1-2 minutes.
  4. Add the tomatoes, seasoning, cumin, paprika and most of the parsley, saving some for the garnish. Simmer for 10 minutes until slightly thickened (the sauce will cook further after adding the eggs, so don’t let it get too thick!).
  5. Make indentations in the sauce for the eggs. Crack them into each little pocket, trying to keep the yolks whole!
  6. Cook for 5-10 minutes, uncovered, until the whites start to firm from beneath. Finish off under the grill for a couple of minutes to ensure the whites are set on top, while trying not to overcook the yolks. Alternatively, you can cover the pan after adding the eggs, but they cook quicker this way, so keep checking on them! If you have an oven-proof pan, you can also cover and bake the dish in the oven.
  7. Serve the shakshuka with your bread of choice and top with the feta or yogurt and the remaining parsley. A nice finishing touch is to sprinkle a little more ground cumin on the eggs, if you like.

Variation: Indian baked eggs

Add a teaspoon of grated ginger with the garlic and green chilli in step 3, and add turmeric with the ground spices in step 4 (you could also add 200g of cooked chickpeas here). Swap the parsley for fresh chopped coriander and serve with yogurt rather than feta.

You could stir some cucumber, coriander, ground cumin, red chilli powder and salt into the yogurt to make a quick raita. You could also swap the pittas for mini naans.

Variation: Mexican baked eggs

You could add 200g of cooked black beans or red kidney beans with the tomatoes in step 4. Add a teaspoon of cocoa powder or a couple of squares of dark chocolate and half a teaspoon of ground coriander at this stage too.

Swap the parsley for coriander and the feta for soured cream (and/or guacamole if you like). Garnish with sliced jalapenos. You could swap the pittas for tortillas or just some plain crusty bread.

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Mexican chilli and cinnamon brownies

Mexican chilli and cinnamon brownies
I’ve had a craving for something extremely chocolatey for the last couple of weeks, so I thought I’d give in and bake some brownies for the first time in a while. My boyfriend had been talking about cooking something Mexican at some point, which prompted me to look for a dessert to match – and that’s when I found the recipe for these Mexican chilli and cinnamon brownies.

I’ve seen a few recipes for chilli brownies before, but this one seemed unique thanks to the addition of cinnamon, which goes really well with chocolate.

As mentioned, I did want to make something *really* chocolatey, so I adapted the recipe to include more than just cocoa powder. As well as the cocoa, I threw in some chopped dark chocolate (just standard supermarket chocolate) and a little bit of the Aztec hot chocolate I got in the most recent William Curley subscription box.

Mexican chilli and cinnamon brownies - the chocolate I used
In the original recipe, the chilli kick comes from a quarter of a teaspoon of cayenne pepper, but I read some comments that suggested this doesn’t make the brownies spicy enough. So I thought I was well within my rights to add the Aztec hot chocolate (which has a hint of chilli) and also up the amount of cayenne pepper to half a teaspoon.

Mexican chilli and cinnamon brownie mix
I only thought to taste the mix after I’d transferred it to the tin, and at first I thought it still wasn’t spicy enough – so I liberally sprinkled some more cayenne pepper on top.

After I put the tin in the oven, though, I realised that I could detect a distinct burn from the bit of mix I’d tasted – which probably meant that I’d made the brownies too spicy by adding more cayenne, as I have a higher than average tolerance for chilli (I regularly complain to my mum – the curry queen – that her food isn’t hot enough!).

Oops…

Mexican chilli and cinnamon brownies
I found that I had to leave the brownies in the oven for longer than the recipe said, which is pretty standard for me when making brownies! I took them out when they still looked a bit wobbly in the middle, but I probably should have left them in for a bit longer, as the brownies in the middle were definitely a lot gooier than the ones around the edges. They were still gobbled up, though!

Mexican chilli and cinnamon brownies
Gooey or not, the brownies were absolutely delicious – and not too spicy at all, in the end! The chilli kick was pretty faint for me, but everyone who tasted them also said it was just a background flavour and not too much, so that was a relief.

I’m glad I added the extra chocolate because it really did add an extra dimension, especially the chopped dark chocolate, which created little pockets of gooey loveliness throughout the brownies. The cinnamon definitely lifted these brownies above your bog standard chocolate brownies.

I would definitely make these again – but perhaps add even more cayenne next time…!

Mexican chilli and cinnamon brownies
Mexican chilli and cinnamon brownies recipe

Adapted from this recipe.

Makes 18

  • 225g unsalted butter
  • 400g caster sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 80g cocoa powder
  • 100g dark chocolate, chopped
  • 50g to 100g chilli hot chocolate (I used William Curley Aztec hot chocolate)
  • 120g plain flour
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 0.5 tsp cayenne pepper (or more if you’d like it spicier!)
  • 0.5 tsp salt
  • 0.5 tsp baking powder

Method:

  1. Pre-heat the oven to gas mark 4/180C. Line a 9 in x 13 in baking tin with a piece of baking parchment/greaseproof paper big enough to hang over the sides.
  2. Gently melt the butter in a large saucepan without letting it come to the boil. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool for a few minutes.
  3. Add the sugar, eggs and vanilla to the saucepan and mix well with a wooden spoon.
  4. Add the cocoa powder, chopped chocolate, hot chocolate, flour, cinnamon, cayenne, salt and baking powder to the saucepan. Stir gently until smooth.
  5. Pour the batter into the prepared tin and tip it from side to side to get the mix into all the corners. Bake for at least 20-25 minutes – if the mix still looks wobbly and liquid, leave the tin in the oven and check at 5 or 10-minute intervals until the brownies are cooked and a skewer inserted into the middle comes out with fudgy mix on it.
  6. Cool the brownies in the tin, cut them into 18 pieces and remove them by lifting the paper out of the tin.