Shakshuka is a dish popular in many different countries of the Middle East. Before anyone gets up in arms and says today’s recipe isn’t done “right,” 😉 please consider this: This is but one version of shakshuka.
Shakshuka is many different things to many different people. There are numerous versions, all too delicious and unique to have one “correct” version. Some use meat; some use eggs; still others are vegetarian. This is the type of food, by the way, that often tastes better the next day.
The shakshuka we’re exploring today is eggplant-based, earth-toned, and mild, but others are spicy and/or pepper based and reddish. There are other differences, which I personally think it’s great, because it means there are infinite ways to enjoy this dish. So if anyone wants to chime in in the comments section with their own take on shakshuka, feel free!
My sources tell me that shakshuka (pronounced shake-shoo-kuh) is a popular dish to use up vegetables and meats, which may explain why the dish is so flexible and has so many variations. Today’s version, while Syrian in origin, somewhat reminds me of Persian eggplant koresh (Koresh e Badenjan). However, that that stew has its own special flavor, which we’ll explore another time.
Speaking of Persian, the Persian girl in me loves shakshuka served over rice with dollop of yogurt on top, but for a more traditional presentation, you could ladle some of the stew on top of warm pita bread or serve the pita on the side. Do try to sprinkle some parsley or fresh cilantro on top for a color pop and flavor boost. Use more water to make the shakshuka more stew-like. For a dip, use less liquid.
Slow Cooker Shakshuka
1 bunch of fresh cilantro (about 1 cup, rinsed. Leaving stems on is okay–they have good flavor)
1 medium onion, halved
4 garlic cloves
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
1 teaspoon salt (can use more or less, according to your to taste)
1 teaspoon black pepper (can use more or less, according to your taste)
4 Chinese eggplants, or one large eggplant (about 1 pound of eggplant total)
2 Tablespoons tomato paste
1/2 cup ketchup (better to get the kind without cornsyrup if possible)
1 Tablespoon paprika
3-4 cups filtered water
Optional: 1 14-16 ounce can of chickpeas, drained
Optional: Freshly chopped parsley or cilantro for garnish
1. In a blender or food processor, blend the half of the onion plus the cumin, coriander, cardamom, cilantro, garlic, salt and pepper until this all forms a pesto-like paste. Add water as needed to keep things moving.
2. If removing peel from eggplant, remove. Then chop the eggplant into 1/2 inch disks or half moons, or chunks. Chop the remaining onion and add it, along with the tomato paste, ketchup, and paprika, to the slow cooker. Add water and stir everything thoroughly.
3. Cook on high for 4 to 6 hours, or on low for 8 hours.
4. A few minutes before serving, add in the drained chickpeas and stir. Check seasoning and make any adjustments to the amount of salt and pepper. Garnish with fresh herbs (if using) and enjoy!