I first happened across this recipe way back in 1990, when I bought three cookbooks produced by British supermarket chain Tesco in association with Good Housekeeping.
They were being sold for the knock-down price of 3 for £1, so I snapped up “Light And Healthy Cooking”, “Good Food Fast”, and “Cooking For One Or Two”, where this recipe appeared.
Chakchouka is often described as a dish with its roots in Morocco, but as the Wikipedia article about it details, it has a complex history, with links to the rest of North Africa, and into the Middle East.
Serves 4 as a side dish, 2 as a main course
- 2 medium red onions, finely chopped
- about 5 large cloves of garlic, minced
- 2 medium red peppers, de-seeded and sliced into 1/4 inch strips
- 2 medium green peppers, de-seeded and sliced into 1/4 inch strips
- 2 medium aubergines, sliced into 1/4 inch rounds
- 2 440ml tins of chopped tomatoes
- 2 tsp ground coriander
- 2 tsp ground cumin
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1 tsp smoked Spanish paprika
- 1 tsp extra hot chilli powder
- olive oil
- salt & black pepper
- Place the coriander, cumin, cinnamon, paprika, and chilli powder plus salt and pepper to taste in a small bowl. Add about a cup of water, and stir well. Set aside.
- Heat 2 tbsp of olive oil over medium heat in a large non-stick pan. Add the onions, and fry for about 5 minutes or so.
- Add the sliced peppers, and fry for a further 5 minutes.
- Add the minced garlic, and fry for a further 2 minutes.
- Add the spice mixture, stir well, and cook for about 5 minutes over a low heat, adding more water if required.
- Add the chopped tomatoes, bring up to a low simmer, and cook for about an hour, until the peppers are tender.
- While the sauce is cooking, prepare the aubergines. Pre-heat a grill-pan to medium high heat. Brush the aubergine slices with olive oil, and grill, turning once, until they are tender and have those wonderfully characteristic char-lines and associated smoky flavour. Set aside.
- When the sauce is ready, stir in the grilled aubergine slices. Serve.
- Chakchouka works really well as a side dish to grilled meats, especially lamb.
- If serving as a main course, add boiled eggs (see notes), and crisp lettuce leaves in lieu of flat-breads.
- This dish will taste even better if the peppers are charred under a hot grill or in a very hot oven, placed in a freezer bag to steam in their own residual heat to loosen the skins, and then peeled when cooled. This will give the peppers a wonderful, smoky flavour, and a quite different, softer texture. Cut them into strips once cooled and peeled, and add them to the sauce at the last minute.
- The extra hot chilli powder can be replaced or supplemented by as many fresh hot chilli peppers as you dare. Simply finely chop them, and add them after the onions have started to soften.
- If serving as a main course, instead of using boiled eggs, you can cook the eggs in the sauce, either by poaching the cracked eggs in the sauce on the stove top, or by cracking them into a “well” in the sauce, and then baking them in the sauce in the oven.
- As with all stews, the flavour of your Chakchouka will improve if left in the fridge overnight.