Ingredients (serves 4):
2 eggplants (long type)
2-3 peppers, finely chopped
2 tomatoes, peeled and cubed
2 medium size potatoes (optional)
1 courgette/zucchini (optional)
2-3 cloves garlic, crushed or finely sliced
Peel alternate strips off the aubergines (eggplants) lengthwise to create a stripey pattern. Chop into chunky cubes, sprinkle generously with salt, and leave to soak in a bowl of water for about half an hour. You can make şakşuka with or without potatoes and courgettes. Without offers a much purer appearance and set of flavours. With provides additional colours, textures, and tastes. Why not try it both ways. If you decide you would like to include them, then chop them into cubes like the aubergine and fry them up until golden. The potatoes need a bit longer than the other vegetables so give them a little extra time.
To soak or not to soak: A debate continues to rage as to whether salting and soaking aubergines really does help to remove any bitterness, but the main orthodoxy is that is better to do than not.
Rinse the aubergine chunks, pat dry, and then fry in a light olive oil until golden brown. Stir in the finely chopped peppers and the tomatoes and cook over a gentle heat. When these start to break down and disintegrate, add the tomato puree/paste and garlic, and continue to simmer for a few minutes. If the tomatoes aren’t especially juicy then feel free to supplement with a little water. You should be aiming for a really moist and juicy consistency.
Leave to cool. Serve chilled. It’s superb eaten with hunks of fresh bread or with some cool fresh yoghurt on the side.