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Shakshuka – WTF?

The joys of celebrating the foods from different cultures,

by the Whole Food Dietitian, Caryn.

Part of the joy of eating is to embrace the food from different cultures from around the world. For many cultural dishes, integrating the LCHF philosophy is an easy fix, particularly when you have great substitutes such as cauliflower rice for white rice and courgette noodles for pasta or noodles.

Recently I was introduced to a traditional dish from Israel, called “Shakshuka”. Just a bit of history here, it is an Israeli dish that was originally introduced by Jewish immigrants from North Africa. While there is no direct translation, with the Hebrew / African fusion, it comes to mean “all mixed up” – and you can see why.

This dish can be found in many a restaurant in Israel, but in particular in a restaurant called “Dr Shakshuka” in Tel Aviv. So, as I am of Jewish and African (well, South African) decent, I was surprised that I had not formally come across this dish until recently. It is really delicious and needs no altering for the LCHF approach!

So why am I profiling it here, today on Top Tip Tuesday?  Well just because I have your attention and I want to share it. Another nice thing about it is that it is one of those dishes that is not restricted to breakfast, lunch or dinner, but great for any time. And of course it’s rich in nutrients, check it out:

  • A healthy dose of healthy fat (monounsaturated fat from the olive oil)
  • High biologically available protein (and a whole range of other brilliant nutrients) from the eggs
  • A hit of carotenoids, lutein and zeaxanthin, from the paprika (a key spice in this dish)
  • A capsaicin health-promoting hit from the chilis
  • A good dosing of the antioxidant lycopene (good for prostate health, and preferred to high-sugar tomato sauce!) and some whole-food carbs from the tomatoes
  • Another anti-oxidant hit from garlic’s Allicin component

Apparently the saying goes something like this: “To make a good Shakshuka, follow the recipe; but to make a great Shakshuka, follow your heart” (…and if your heart says add some mince, that’s all good too – another optional and delicious addition).

So without further ado, I bring you…

Shakshuka

Serves 4 (or more, or less, depending on your appetite)

Ingredients:

  • 2 diced onions (red or brown), I quite like a combination of the two
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1-2 capsicums, diced
  • 6-8 button mushrooms, chopped (optional)
  • 6 cloves garlic, roughly diced
  • 6-8 fresh tomatoes, unpeeled and roughly cut in small chunks
  • 1 teaspoon sweet paprika
  • 2 teaspoons tomato paste (optional)
  • 1-2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 4-6 eggs
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 -2 chilis (depending on how spicy you like it)
  • 1/3 – 1/2 block feta cheese (crumbly is my favourite)
  • Fresh basil leaves (a small bunch)

Directions

1. Heat up a pan, when it’s hot, add oil.

2. Add chopped onion and sliced garlic

3. When onions and garlic are soft, add parsley and spices, except salt

4. Add veggies and except tomatoes (capsicum and mushrooms if you have them)

5. Cook until soft, then add tomatoes and salt

6. Mix, cover and wait – 10-15 minutes

7. When it’s almost ready, use a spoon to make a hole, and break one egg into the hole – repeat for the number of eggs you have.

8. Gently mix around the yolk, without breaking it, and blend the white of the egg into the Shakshuka.

9. When the eggs are cooked, add crumbled feta cheese, some parsely and basil leaves, turn off the pan (the feta should be slightly melting).

10. Serve… You’re meant to eat it with your hands, and maybe you would in Israel / Africa, but I use cutlery.

I hope you enjoy it and decide to add it to your LCHF cultural recipe repertoire!

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