Baby-friendly Shakshuka with a twist

Shakshouka or Shakshuka, also known as Israel army stew, is an egg-centric dish of poached eggs in a sauce of tomatoes, chili peppers, and onions, often spiced with cumin. It is believed to have a Tunisian/Middle Eastern origin, though in Israel, this dish is usually served with pita for breakfast.
Traditionally, it is a vegetarian dish albeit a spicy one and it looks really good and easy to do. This Middle Eastern one-pan meal is perfect for families, and since we had it for dinner (too heavy as breakfast!), my recipe contains meat. If you prefer a meatless one i.e. vegetarian style, skip through the steps with meat, and it’s really super easy. Best of all, it’s versatile enough for you to taper it to your heart’s fancy; choice of vegetables are up to you too!

Shakshuka with a twist

~serves 2 adults and 1 child, recipe adapted from Tori Avey

Ingredients:

1 tbsp olive oil

1/2 medium brown or white onion, peeled and diced

1 clove garlic, minced

1/2 medium green or red bell pepper, chopped into desired size

2 large ripe tomatoes, diced or blended in food processor. I chopped them as i don’t have the latter.

Handful of ladysfinger, chopped into desired size

200g minced beef , unseasoned

200g minced pork, seasoned with McCormicks Italian Herbs and rolled into balls

1 tsp cumin (cumin turns the dish brown too, as if you prefer a redder dish, add more tomatoes or tomato paste)

1 tsp paprika

3 eggs

1/2 tbsp fresh chopped parsley (optional, for garnish)

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Method:

1) Heat a deep, large pan on medium. Slowly warm olive oil.

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2) Add chopped onion, sauté for a few minutes until the onion begins to soften. Add garlic and continue to sauté till mixture is fragrant.

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3) Add the bell pepper and ladysfinger, sauté for 5-7 minutes over medium fire until softened.

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4) Add tomatoes, and mushrooms and stir over medium heat until soften. Add minced beef and pork balls into mixture and ensure they are fully submerged in the mixture.

5) Add spices and allow mixture to simmer over medium heat for 5-7 minutes till it starts to reduce. At this point, you can taste the mixture and spice it according to your preferences.
Optional: salt, pepper, sugar and cayenne pepper can be added accordingly, but do be careful with cayenne as it’s can get too spicy especially for the little ones!

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6) Crack the eggs over the entire dish. Cover the pan. Allow mixture to simmer for 10-15 minutes, or until the eggs are cooked and the sauce has slightly reduced. Do watch the pan to ensure that the sauce doesn’t reduce too much, as that can lead to a very dry dish and burning. Depending on your preference for the eggs, adjust the cooking time for them before switching off the fire. For children, ensure that eggs are fully cooked.

Garnish with the chopped parsley, as desired and serve up with toasted wraps to go!

And how did the hubs and baby Vera take to the dish? We’re glad the portion was just about right for the three of us!

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Tips:

– This one-pan meal is a great convenient fix for a wholesome meal. If you prefer the original tomatoes-only, you could serve it to go with a meat dish

– As I used fresh tomatoes and no tomato paste at all, along with meat and cumin, hence the dish was more brown than the original version with just tomatoes. If you prefer a red-der version, simply make your own tomato paste (here’s my recipe!) of grab a canned paste from the supermarket.

– Veggies and meat options are entirely based on personal preferences. We chose ladysfingers for more crunch and mushrooms because they are one of our fave. And it was the first time Vera had ladysfingers too!

– Introduction of spices after 1 year old is our personal choice, as their immature digestive system should not be bombarded with too much before that. Parents may like to observe the 3-day rule for new foods too, and this is entirely up to you!

Do you create dishes of varying cuisines for your children? Do share with us what you’ve made!

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