In my pre-vegan days, I loved shakshuka as a brunch on a Sunday. I have never really missed milk and cheese, but I did initially miss eggs. Boiled eggs in particular. And shakshuka.
I see that in Israel they have just developed a vegan “fried egg” product that apparently reproduces the textures and taste. We shall see. But for the moment, tofu makes a great egg substitute, and, if you have kala namak (black salt) then you can easily replicate the egg-y sulphur smell. You can keep the tofu egg part of this really simple, just slice and fry. Or you can go all out and try to create a fried egg look.
This dish is full of anti-oxidants, and packs a big protein punch. For added nutrition, add spinach towards the end.
(The sauce element of this dish is adapted from a Bosh recipe. The “egg” is my own.)
Cooking time: 45 minutes approximately
For the sauce:
1 red pepper
1 large white onion, finely chopped
1 fresh red chilli, chopped
3 garlic cloves, peeled and grated
A bunch of fresh coriander (stalks chopped, leaves chopped)
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp cayenne powder
1/2 tsp ras el hanout (if you don’t have this, curry powder or garam masala make a good substitute)
1 1/2 tbsp tomato purée
1 tsp sugar
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
1 x 400g tin chopped tomatoes
2 bay leaves
1 cinnamon stick
salt & pepper to taste
For the “eggs”
1 block of extra firm tofu (pressed to remove moisture)
Kala Namak (or ordinary salt)
Sriracha mayo (optional)
1/ Prepare the pressed tofu – pat dry with a towel to remove as much moisture as you can. Carefully slice the block from corner to corner to create two triangles. Then carefully cut through the centre of each triangle (ie halving the height) to create four thinner triangles. If you’re playing safe, leave as they are. For a fancier look, scoop or scrape out (with a spoon or your fingers) a shallow hollow on one of the flat sides. This will be where you create your “yolk”.
2/ Blacken the peppers by lighting your largest gas ring or preheating your grill to high. Put the red pepper directly on the flame or under the grill for 10-15 minutes, turning every 5 minutes, until blackened. Set aside in a bowl to cool and steam with a plate over the top.
3/ Cook the vegetables by placing the frying pan with a drizzle of olive oil over a medium heat. Add the onion first, then the diced chili and garlic. Cook for five minutes.
4/ Add the spices to the pan, starting with the coriander stems (reserving the leaves), then the oregano, cumin and paprika.
5/ Add tomato purée and sugar then stir until the mixture is dark and sticky, then add the vinegar and let it bubble.
6/ Add the tinned tomatoes, bay leaves and cinnamon stick and a good splash of water and leave to simmer for 8-10 minutes, until thickened.
7/ Peel the peppers by rubbing the burned skin with your fingers. Seed and roughly chop them, then add to the shakshuka. Season to taste.
8/ Fry the tofu in a little oil over a medium to high heat until browned on each side. Whilst frying season with kala namak (or ordinary salt) and pepper. Set to one side.
To assemble, remove the bay leaves & cinnamon stick, then spoon the sauce into two shallow bowls, and place two slices of tofu on each. If you’re going for the “egg” look, squirt Sriracha mayo into the little hole you made on the surface of the tofu.
Serve with warm bread of your choice, and a sprinkling of coriander leaves on top.