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The Handoff: Shakshuka, Indian Style

2011 April 28

By Chitra Agrawal


Brianna’s fava bean greens brought me back to the delicious ful mudammas I had enjoyed when visiting Egypt.  As I discussed on Tuesday, I decided to make a different Egyptian dish that featured an ingredient I could get farm fresh in New York right now – eggs! Shakshuka, is a dish made with eggs that are poached in a spicy tomato base.  The curry spices from Brianna’s recipe inspired me to make an Indian style shakshuka.

CLICK HERE for the full post and recipe.

I visited the farmer’s market at Union Square to find that many of the offerings still had winter written all over them – potatoes, apples, kale, leeks, etc. I was able to find half a dozen free range brown eggs at the Central Valley Farm table, and while making the rounds, some red cipollini onions from John D Madura Farms caught my eye. I love cipollinis because their flavor is really sweet and more subtle than other onions.

For this recipe, I wanted to include garam masala, coriander powder, cumin powder and a special red chili powder, Kashmiri mirch. I had made a visit to Delhi in January and actually had some garam masala left over that I had prepared there, along with some Kashmiri mirch I had purchased in the market. Kashmiri mirch is a bright red chili powder that comes from North of India in Kashmir; it has a sweet and spicy flavor to it, similar to paprika but hotter. For my Indian spices in New York, I often go to Little India in Manhattan or Patel Brothers in Queens, however neither of these stores carry organic spices, which I wanted to use for this recipe. I popped into Whole Foods to find my coriander and cumin and found a line of organic spices – Simply Organic.

Although I had eaten shakshuka before, I had never cooked it.  So I did some recipe searching online and came across an Israeli version on Smitten Kitchen that was adapted from a  Saveur magazine recipe.  I liked the addition of feta on the top so I snagged that detail; I also followed the egg cooking instructions but basically made it up from there.

There is an egg curry that I prepare with hard boiled eggs; I made this same base for the shakshuka from onions, garlic, ginger, chilis, tomato puree and spices, all fried in ghee. The Smitten Kitchen recipe, directed me to crack the eggs right into the pan. On my first attempt, I managed to make many cracks in the egg, but the egg did not seem to want to come out! In order to make sure no eggshell pieces got into the sauce, I used a fork to crack each egg over a bowl and then quickly opened them over the pan and dropped them into the sauce.

Usually, this dish is garnished with parsley, but I put cilantro on top and sprinkled on some cubed feta. It was delicious with a little bit of baguette I had leftover from the Essex Street Market.   Traditionally this dish is eaten with pita – but I’m sure naan would be great too!  To make this dish truly Indian, sprinkle paneer on top instead of the feta.


Prep Time – 10 minutes
Cook Time -  35 minutes
Yield – 2 – 3 servings

  • 3 Tbs ghee or oil
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 lbs ripe tomatoes, pureed
  • 3 cippolini onions, finely chopped
  • 5 grated ginger
  • 1-2 Indian green chilis (can substitute jalapeño), finely chopped
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 2 tsp coriander powder
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • 1/4-1/2 tsp Kashmiri mirch (can substitue paprika)
  • 1/4 lb feta or paneer
  • 1 bunch fresh cilantro
  • Salt to taste

Cooking Directions

  1. In a frying pan, heat 3 Tablespoons of ghee under a medium-high flame. Throw in the finely chopped cipollinis, and fry for 5 minutes or until they start to brown a little.
  2. Add the grated ginger, crushed garlic and chilis and mix them around, frying for 30 seconds.
  3. Next add the tomato puree and lower the heat to medium.
  4. Mix in the garam masala, coriander powder, cumin powder, Kashmiri mirch powder. Add salt to taste. Simmer on the stove for 15-20 minutes.
  5. Crack each egg with a fork over a bowl and open over the frying pan, making sure not to break the yolk. Repeat for all 4 eggs, making sure they are distributed throughout the pan.
  6. Cover the pan and cook for about 5 minutes or until the eggs reach the consistency you want. While cooking make sure to spoon some of the curry over the egg whites, but be careful not to break the yolks.
  7. Top with chopped cilantro and cubed feta or paneer and serve in a bowl with baguette, pita or naan.

Chitra Agrawal writes The ABCD’s of Cooking, a cooking blog devoted to vegetarian Indian-inspired recipes.