Shakshouka of Lentils

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Weeknight suppers need to be fuss free, at least in our household. By 6 PM we like to be at the supper table and by the time little Saira finishes her plate it is usually approaching 7 PM. Nights are routined, leaving us very little time to waste until she makes off to bed. During the weekend I usually plan ahead, but not everything can be cooked in advance nor taste the same re-heated. Curries work wonderfully, so does lasagna, a pot of kichuri( a lentil and rice porridge) or chilli, meat loaf – but not everything. I am always looking for ideas and recipes that leave me enough time to enjoy with my family. I love to make something so versatile that (without much effort) the same dish can be changed up to create different meals.

Have you ever had the Tunisian dish called “shakshouka” (a stewed tomato dish with poached eggs)? It is one of our family favourites and is the inspiration behind this entry to the Best in Main Category of the Canadian Lentils Recipe Revelations Challenge. While trying to come up with a dish for the main course I began wondering about ways to incorporate more lentils into our diet at home. I figured lentil lovers would venture into any lentil recipe, but what about the non lentil lovers such as the two I have at home? If I want to submit a recipe into the challenge I need to believe in it and I need to practice it. It also needs to be fuss free and versatile.

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I decided to do a new take on the traditional shakshouka by introducing lentils as the main base. A Punjabi egg “tadka” is a very sought-after spicy lentil dish that incorporates eggs into the final finish, much like the shakshouka but with lentils. I drew my inspiration from the spices of the Punjabi tadka and the poached eggs with cheese of the traditional shakshouka. Both shakshouka and tadka are mopped up with breads like pita. I prefer calling it a shakshouka of lentils because of the method of cooking involved and the undeniable look of a traditional shakshouka – gleaming yellow yolks sitting atop a beautiful stewed base, sprinkled with white crumbly cheese and flecks of green parsley. ‘Shakshouka’ really means ‘to mix it up’, so I did!

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My version is a keeper in my books. The lentils do not take as long to cook as the stewed tomato base of a traditional version and, once done, I can store it until I am ready to poach my eggs in it … conveniently just before supper. Cooking the base a day or two earlier makes it an easy weeknight supper choice and enhances the taste even further. But the best part of this lentil base is its versatility. It can be made thicker by reheating and rolling it into pitas with salads for lunch the next day. On another day, adding some good melting cheese like Jack or Havarti on top and setting it under the broiler for a few minutes can transform it into a fabulous dip. One pot makes supper, lunch for next day, and a dip for late night TV watching.

What do you think, folks? Does this interest you? Would you give it a try? Your input plays an important role in the final decision making.

My first two entries into the Canadian Lentils Recipes Revelations Challenge are:
Best in Appetizer Category: Lentil Fritters with Shrimp and Oregano
Best in Salad Category: Warm Lentil Salad with Grilled Veg and Cumin

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Shakshouka of Lentils with Eggs and Goats Cheese

(serves 3-4)

Ingredients:

  • Lentil: 1 and 1/4 cups (I use a mixture of green and black )
  • Onion: 1 large, diced
  • Fresh Garlic: 2 Tbsp, minced
  • Fresh Ginger: 2 Tbsp, grated
  • Fresh Green Chilli: 3, chopped (see note* below)
  • Cumin powder: 3 tsp
  • Coriander powder: 2 tsp
  • Whole Canned Tomato: 28 oz. can
  • Paprika: 1 Tbsp
  • Butter: 3 Tbsp
  • Eggs: 4
  • Goats Cheese: 1/4 cup crumbled
  • Parsley or Cilantro: 2 Tbsp, chopped
  • Sugar: 1 Tbsp
  • Salt: 1 and 1/2 tsp, or as needed
  • Pepper: to taste
  • Pita Bread: To serve

Method:

  • Boil lentils in 2 and 3/4 cups of water till well cooked. Most of the water will be absorbed by the time the lentils are cooked. If there is a little bit of water left, leave it with the lentils. Partially mash the lentils with the back of a fork.
  • Preheat oven at 350F.
  • Heat butter in an oven proof pan or a cast iron skillet, add onions, garlic, ginger and fresh green chillis and fry till onions are translucent, about 5-8 minutes on low to medium heat.
  • Add the cumin and coriander powder and a table spoon of the tomato juice from the can, and fry for a min or two, until well blended.
  • Add the boiled lentils and mix with the onions well.
  • Fry for a few minutes, then add the whole can of tomatoes and paprika and bring to a gentle boil. With the back of your spoon break the tomatoes to let the juices out and mash into uneven chunky pieces.
  • Add the salt and the sugar and let the lentils boil for about 20 minutes on low to medium heat, covered. When done, take off heat. There should be enough juice left. Add some water if it looks dry, about 1/2 cup or so and heat up again (enough juice for eggs to be able to poach without the lentils drying up).
  • When ready to serve, crack the eggs on top, keeping the yolks intact. Sprinkle the goats cheese around the eggs and a little bit of salt on top of the eggs and pop it into the oven.
  • If you like your eggs runny, bake for 10 minutes, if you prefer a set yolk add 5 minutes more or bake until it reaches preferred consistency.
  • Sprinkle with chopped parsley or cilantro leaves and extra goats cheese, and serve with warm pita bread to scoop up the delicious lentils and soft eggs.

Note*:

  • If you cat find fresh green chills you can substitute them with jalapeño peppers. Devein 2 jalapeño peppers and add instead of fresh green chills.
  • If you think you have more lentils than you would be able to eat, set some aside before poaching the eggs. The extra can be for a dip with cheese or your lunch with pita!
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18 thoughts on “Shakshouka of Lentils

  1. Sounds wonderful! I too like meal times to be structured and I remember when my daughter used to be in bed for 7pm. Now she’s older it’s later! But even though she’s nearly a teenager our meal times are just the same and we sit down around the table between 5.30 and 6pm. Always eat homecooked food with perhaps one or two takeaways a month. It’s amazing how many people don’t sit together as a family to eat dinner or as you call it – supper.

    What would you recommend as a subsitute for goats cheese in this recipe?

    • Dinner is what I always called evening meals. It’s very British and that’s what we still say in India. Supper is what I learnt to call it when I came to Canada. And yes, families that eat together and pray together, stay together – I believe in it! Although I don’t know about my husband joining me in prayers. Tough luck there!
      You can always add feta instead of the goats cheese if you like. The original shakshouka calls for feta but I like the added tang and creaminess of the goats cheese with the lentils. Squeezing a little bit of lemon juice at the end would be as good too! Let me know how you like it!

  2. I have lentils soaking in my Nissan-Thermos vacuum bottle right now! I do the same with split peas. Made the split peas into soup for lunch, and will add the lentils tomorrow with the leftovers. We found that split peas and lentils make a nice combination. I soak three quarters cup of either of these legumes in three cups of boiling water for a few hours before using them, or, if not needed immediately, I put them into the refrigerator. They then cook very quickly at mealtime. Today’s soup had the split peas, onions, carrots, celery, red bell peppers, fresh salsa, basil pesto, and some jarred salsa – served over white rice. Adding the lentils the next day makes it seem like a whole new soup! Can serve with barley for a change up.

    Virtual hugs,

    Judie

    • What a great idea Judie! Thank you so much for sharing. I will keep that in mind with my next lentil soak. Your lentil soup recipe sounds so good! You should absolutely share the recipe with the Lentil Challenge! This challenge is a great way to share recipes as well. Join in!
      And thank you so much for visiting the blog and commenting. I appreciate it a lot.

  3. You do pick up different terms when you live in a different country! I am British so obviously that’s why I call it dinner, but I live in New Zealand and they call it the same (from what I’ve heard anyway!) Although they may say ‘tea’ too like we do in England also. I like ‘supper’ though, there’s a warm and comforting sound about it – we say supper when you’re having something of substance to eat past eight o’clock. Anyway! I thought you were going to say Feta. I will let you know! Sounds delicious – I love your recipes, I have started to print them out to put in my recipe journal.

    • You know what they call lunch here in Newfoundland? Dinner! I used to be so confused when I first came here… It’s all good now, I just go with the flow. :)
      So glad you like my recipes. Nothing makes a food blogger happier than to know their recipes are of interest to others. I would love your input on my recipes. Do let me know. There is much to learn from everyone! :)

    • Oh Liz! You are not hopeless to me at all….you are always encouraging me! Thank you for it. I have two more recipes to share. I hope you like them too! But yes, this shakshouka definitely pleases the belly! :)

    • This is a compliment all food bloggers love to hear! You made my day! Thank you for letting me know that you enjoyed it so much. We love it at home. Had it three times since. Thank you once again for the compliment! :)

  4. This looks really delicious! I’ve heard of shakshouka, but have never actually had it. I love all the ingredients in this version, though (tomatoes, eggs, lentils, etc.), so I’m sure I’ll love the assembled dish. Thanks for sharing the recipe!

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