One of the things I have done in the past that unintentionally impressed Delphine was to cook a vegetarian dish that I learned from my sister-in-law. Şakşuka (pronounced shakshuka) is a blend of fried vegetables, topped with garlic tomato sauce, which is different than the Tunisian egg dish with the same name. It’s great as a side dish or an appetizer. While some versions contain zucchini, this one has the basics: potatoes, tomatoes, eggplant, and green pepper.
The amount of ingredients we use are the same i.e. matching amount of potatoes in volume for the same amount of eggplants. The idea is, we fry each vegetable separately, and add it as a layer. You can mix them in the end, but each spoon should have the same amount of different vegetables when you eat. While the same volume does not translate to same weight, I figured that’s a close estimation.
- 2 lbs of eggplants, peeled into a zebra pattern, then cut in cubes
- 4 T salt
- 2 L water
- 2 c cooking oil
- 1 lbs of potatoes, cut in small cubes
- 1 lbs of green bell pepper, chopped
- 2 T olive oil
- 1 lbs of ripe tomatoes, cut in small cubes
- 2 cloves of garlic, crushed
- salt, olive oil to taste
- cooking oil
- 1½ c yogurt
- ½ T garlic, minced
- ½ t salt
- 2 T tomato paste
- 4 T butter
Prepare the ingredients as described above. Massage the eggplants with the salt, then submerge them with the salt in the water. Let them soak for 15-20 minutes. Drain the eggplants, and squeeze the bitter juice out with your hands.
Heat the cooking oil in a large skillet on medium high heat. Deep fry the salted drained eggplant cubes for approximately 5 minutes, or until soft. Stir while cooking to ensure that each piece is eggplant is cooked evenly. Drain well, and set aside in a large container.
Next deep fry the peppers in the same oil for about 5 minutes, or until soft. Drain well and place in the container with the eggplant. Last, deep fry the potatoes the same way. Add to the container with the eggplant and peppers.
The last layer is the garlic tomatoes. This is the only vegetable that won’t need to be deep fried. As a matter of fact, you can use little bit of olive oil to cook the tomatoes. First, add the crushed garlic to hot olive oil until it’s fragrant. Add the small cubes of tomatoes. Stir while cooking for 3-4 minutes. This will be the top part of the dish.
You can leave them as layered, or mix them all (I like it mixed). Add salt to taste. If the olive oil from the tomatoes are not enough feel free to add more.
To prepare the garnish: Mix the yogurt, garlic and salt together. Separately, fry the tomato paste with the butter in a small skillet on medium heat for 1 minute. Drizzle the buttery tomato sauce on top of the yogurt mixture. Dollop the garnish on the dish right before serving.