Shakshouka with Tofu

Shakshouka. What a lovely sounding name. This dish, originating from the Mediterranean and Middle Eastern regions, is often prepared with poached eggs on top. But for our purposes simmered tofu works well. The superb blandness of it mimics the neutral taste of egg whites set against the pungent spices scattered through the red sauce.

Ranka gave a silent sign after lunch that day that indicated it was a success. So we will no doubt be repeating it.

The day I made it there happened to be a lot of summer courgette in the pantry so it ended up in the recipe, however I’ve also tried it with fried aubergine/ eggplant which was super. Other vegetables that would work are broad beans or potatoes, or for a richer flavour skip the tofu and try soft goat or feta cheese sprinkled on top.

Next time I’d also like to try soft/silken tofu scattered or broken on top and left to steam after the sauce has cooked. That might be harder for oryoki though when the food is transferred from one giant pot in the kitchen to several serving bowls for oryoki in the zendo. Silken tofu is almost impossible to stir through a sauce without breaking and crumbling. But we will see – maybe one day I’ll give it a try if we can serve it straight from a stew pot… Stay tuned!

Ingredients

2 medium red onions
3 bell peppers
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon caraway seeds
3 cloves garlic
1 courgette (zuchinni) or aubergine (eggplant)
125 g firm tofu
A few sprigs of flat leaf parsley
800 ml (3 cups) canned chopped tomatoes (about 2 cans)
1 teaspoon ground paprika
½ teaspoon ground coriander 
1 teaspoon red wine vinegar (optional)
1 teaspoon honey (optional)
Salt to taste
3 tablespoons olive oil for frying.

Method

  • Peel and medium-dice the red onions.
  • Deseed and medium-dice the bell peppers.
  • Peel and mince the garlic.
  • Crush the caraway and cumin seeds with a pestle and mortar being careful not to grind them down to a powder.
  • Medium-dice the courgette / aubergine.
  • Medium-dice the tofu.
  • Roughly chop the flat leaf parsley.

  • Put the canned tomatoes, coriander, and paprika into a stew pot and heat gently on a low flame.
  • Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a frying pan on a medium flame. Put in the red onions, bell peppers, cumin, and caraway seeds and stir-fry until the onions and peppers begin to brown.
  • Add the garlic and continue to stir-fry until it releases it’s fragrance. Transfer to the stew pot with the tomatoes and spices.
  • In the same frying pan, add a little more olive oil and stir-fry the courgette until it begins to brown and soften then put it into the stew-pot with the tomatoes. (If using aubergine, fry in olive oil until they brown and the flesh turns buttery, which might take a little longer than courgette.)
  • Bring a small pan of salted water to the boil. Drop in the tofu and simmer for five minutes. Drain well and add to the stew pot.
  • Simmer for about ten minutes, or until all the vegetables are soft and tender. 
  • Season to taste with salt, and vinegar and honey if you wish.
  • Sprinkle with chopped parsley.
  • Serve alongside hummus with Turkish bread, bulgar or cous cous.

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