We’re in the thick of Ramadan 2018 and – so far – everyone is loving our special Ramadan menu. Observant Muslims join us to break their fast for iftar with London’s most gourmet, delicious and energising Ramadan spread. Moroccan expats have come in droves to re-immerse themselves in the flavours and aromas of their homeland through authentic favourites like hariraand msemen.
We have also been delighted by the fact that we have attract so many non-Muslims iftar diners, who are keen both to learn more about the holy month of Ramadanand its traditions, but also to try a range of Moroccan dishes that you simply won’t get anywhere outside of Morocco or a real-life Moroccan’s kitchen.
Our Ramadan menu is delicious and – for the most part – traditional. And yet, there is one dish that might surprise the Moroccan food connoisseurs among us. It may surprise them… but it surely won’t disappoint them!
This ‘wild card’ dish to which I am referring is none other than my homemade shakshouka. To describe this dish renders a fairly banal sounding item. But don’t be dismayed – like many Moroccan recipes, simple and humble equals buckets of flavour. Moroccan shakshouka – a delicious and subtlety spiced tomato sauce with a perfectly poached egg on top – must be tasted to be properly savoured and appreciated.
Shakshouka is amazing for breakfast and is a veritable revelation of iftar. Though despite being very popular in my hometown of Casablanca, it isn’t necessarily a dish that is commonly enjoyed throughout Morocco.
I guess you could say it is one of our more closely guarded secrets! Our shakshouka is different to the one available in other parts of the Middle East. For instance, in Turkey their shakshouka is excellent (though clearly not as good as ours!) and they make it with cheese. In Jerusalem they make it with sausage. Ours seems comparatively basic – a poached egg atop a bed of tomato sauce. And yet, Zayane’s Moroccan shakshouka will do cartwheels on your palate. We serve it all year round for brunch and our customers absolutely love it.
I am passionate about shakshouka both because it represents the heights of flavour that one could find in any cuisine around the world, but also because it has played an important role in my own family’s history. When my kids were young we used to travel to a little Moroccan village by the Mediterranean Sea during the summer holidays. Our nuclear family would be joined by most of my extended family and we would do what most Moroccans do together – eat and drink a lot. It was great! The meal we would all look forward to the most was breakfast. When we woke up the ladies of the house would have put together a splendid range of everything one could imagine to properly prepare us for the day on the beach ahead – fruit, pastries and a spread of Moroccan breakfast favourites. There was one dish that made sure that everyone arrived at breakfast on time – the shakshouka, of course, which would disappear very quickly each morning!
When we would return home to London, my family would clamour for me to make the dish it missed most from Morocco – shakshouka.
Despite being so simple, it took me years to master making the tomato sauce properly. I would eventually learn how to balance the spices correctly and the right cooking time. Now making shakshouka is routine and I want to share the wonders of this delectable dish with you. Let me personally invite you to savour our shakshouka for any iftar for the duration of Ramadan – if you somehow miss out, you can join us for brunch year-round.
Oh – before I forget – I have another Eid present for you… my personal recipe for shakshouka! If you are Muslim, try this dish for iftar and let me know what you think. If you are not Muslim, still try it because amazing food doesn’t care what your religion is or, indeed, if you have one at all!
As ever, Ramadan Mubarak!
Zayane’s Recipe for Shakshouka
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 1 small onion, chopped
- 1 tsp cumin
- 1 tsp paprika
- 1 tsp ginger, minced
- 1 tin of chopped tomatoes
- 1 tsp white sugar
- 1 tbsp chopped parsley
- salt & pepper to taste
- 2 free range eggs per person
- Heat the oil in a heavy bottommed pan over medium heat.
- Add the garlic and cook just before its edges turn golden.
- Add the onion and cook until soft and translucent – about 5-10 minutes.
- Stir in the cumin, paprika and ginger and cook for a couple minutes to release the flavours.
- Add the tomatoes, sugar and parsley and cook over low heat for 40 minutes.
- Add salt and pepper to taste and add more sugar if needed.
- In a small heat proof tagine place 2 tbsp of the sauce, crack two eggs on top, cover and cook until the egg whites are cooked.
- Serve and enjoy!