Shakchouka (Eggs poached in Tomato & Chili Sauce)

From my book Mediterranean HOT and SPICY (Broadway) 

Similar to huevos rancheros, shakchouka or chakchuka gets its delicious flavor from the hot and fragrant chilies of the Mediterranean, and of course from vine-ripened summer tomatoes of any kind.

The best shakchouka I’ve tasted was served in a restaurant called Doctor Shakchouka, in Jaffa, Israel. The owner brings the dish to the table in the skillet in which it is cooked, and diners dip big pieces of crusty bread into it, devouring them instantly.

chaktchuka-small
PHOTO BY ANASTASSIOS MENTIS

Serves 6

3 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup chopped onion
2 green bell peppers, seeded and cut into strips
2 poblanos or red bell peppers, seeded and cut into strips
4 jalapenos, seeded and cut into strips
2 cups fresh pulp from grated vine-ripened tomatoes or good-quality
canned tomatoes crushed
2-4 teaspoons Aleppo or Maras pepper or Hot Red Pepper Flakes to taste
Salt
Pinch of cumin (optional)
6 eggs
Freshly ground black pepper to taste (optional)
Good crusty bread, for serving

In a large heavy skillet warm the olive oil and sauté the onions, the sweet peppers and the jalapenos until soft, about 6 minutes, stirring with a wooden spatula.

Add the tomatoes and cook until the mixture just starts to thicken, 8-10 minutes.
Add the Aleppo pepper, some salt and the cumin if you use it. Taste and adjust the seasoning.

Break one egg at a time into a cup or small bowl and slide it into the skillet while the tomato and pepper mixture is simmering. Cook for another 5-8 minutes, spooning sauce over the egg-whites, if you like, until they are set the way you like them.

Sprinkle with Aleppo or pepper flakes, or with freshly ground black pepper and serve with crusty bread to sop up every bit of the delicious sauce.

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