In a tiny alley in old Jaffa there's a little restaurant serving food to customers sitting outside at shared shabby tables. The place is heaving around lunchtime and everybody, more or less, is eating the same thing. The place is called Dr Shakshuka, after its signature dish, and this is, obviously, what everybody's tucking into.
Shakshuka is a North African dish with many variations. Some add preserved lemons, others feta and different herbs and spices. It is my ideal brunch fair. Cook and serve it in individual pans, if you have them, or in one very large one. Chunky white bread on the side is a must.
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
180ml light olive oil or vegetable oil
2 large onions, sliced
2 red and 2 yellow peppers, cut into 2cm strips
4 tsp muscovado sugar
2 bay leaves
6 thyme springs, leaves picked and chopped
2 tbsp chopped parsley
2 tbs chopped coriander, plus extra to garnish
6 ripe tomatoes, roughly chopped
1/2 tsp saffron threads
pinch of cayenne pepper
up to 250ml water
8 free-range eggs
salt and black pepper
1. In a very large pan dry-roast the cumin seeds on a high heat for 2 minutes. Add the oil and onions and saute for 5 minutes. Add the peppers, sugar and herbs and continue cooking on a high heat for 5-10 minutes to get a nice colour.
2. Add the tomatoes, saffron, cayenne and some salt and pepper. Reduce the heat to low and cook for 15 minutes. During the cooking keep adding water so that the mix has a pasta sauce consistency. Taste and adjust the seasoning. It should be potent and flavoursome. (You can prepare this mix well in advance.)
3. Remove the bay leaves, then divide the pepper mix among four deep frying pans, each large enough to take a generous individual portion. Place them on a medium heat to warm up, then make two gaps in the pepper mix in each pan and carefully break an egg into each gap. Sprinkle with salt and cover the pans with lids. Cook on a very (!) gentle heat for 10-12 minutes, or until the eggs are just set. Sprinkle with coriander and serve.