Jan 10, 2011

Sha-Shu-What? by Andrea Mann

If you had told me that I would one day actually crave shakshuka, I would never have believed you. Prior to moving to Israel, I had never heard even heard the word shakshuka mentioned. So when my program announced that they were taking the entire 120+ person group to dinner at Doktor Shakshuka, a world-renowned shakshuka establishment in the heart of Jaffa, I believe my reaction was a rather quizzical facial expression followed by a meek utterance of "Sha-Shu-What?"
Israeli Shakshuka from Yotvato in the City
Unable to mask my confusion, a friend explained to me that shakshuka is a popular breakfast dish and a staple in the israeli diet. Essentially, it is poached eggs in a spicy tomato sauce concoction served hot from the stove in a cast-iron skillet. But really, it is so much more.

Italian Shakshuka at Sonia's Cafe on Simta Almoit
These past few months I have studied Tel Aviv restaurant menus meticulously. I have read hundreds of different shakshuka descriptions and tasted several variations, so I can now attest to the fact that shakshuka definitely lives up to it's hebrew-to-english translation "all mixed up". The healthy and deliciously satisfying dish can be made from endless combinations of fresh ingredients such as peppers, mushrooms, onions,  garlic, spinach, basil, minced meat, mozzarella, feta, and goat cheese. Although the recipes and techniques have been debated through the years, the gist of the recipe is rather simple. After sauteing your desired vegetables in oil in a deep skillet until cooked, add crushed tomatoes or tomato paste and continue to cook for several more minutes. Season as you'd like with salt, pepper, spice. Crack the eggs directly into the skillet, turn down the heat, and allow them to poach nicely on top of the beautiful tomato concoction. When your patience runs out and you just can't quite take the amazing smell wafting up from the pan any longer, grab a fork and dig right in.

Greek Shakshuka from Sonia's Cafe on Simta Almonit
Of all the shakshuka's I have smelled, seen, and tasted thus far in Tel Aviv, no chef or restaurant has mastered the Israeli dish quite like Sonia's on Simta Almonit. Hidden on a quiet, dead-end street, only steps away from the hustle and bustle of King George, Sonia Getzel Shapira's garden cafe is a shakshuka paradise.  When you first turn on to the tree-shaded street, you may feel a little lost. But once you enter through the doors to Sonia's garden and patio, take a seat in the colorful plastic chairs, wrap yourself in a fleece blanket, and begin reading through the menu, you will be in for a treat. From Syrian Shakshuka to Italian shakshuka to Mexican to Greek, and even to Canaanite... there is bound to be a selection that will satisfy your cravings. Served with the steam still rising from the pan, with a loaf of freshly baked Moroccan bread for dipping, Sonia's shakshuka is the perfect comfort food for any time of the day. Whether you're a vegetarian or a meat eater, a spice lover or a spice hater, one bite of Sonia's shakshuka is sure to have you coming back for more.
Shakshuka from the bistro at Hotel Miguel
If I have learned one thing while eating in Tel Aviv, it is that Shakshuka is shockingly delicious.

1 comment:

  1. It looks like a really good cake meat, thanks for share, i will look for some recipe, thanks