Look. Whether we like it or not, the weather is getting colder. The days of whisking out of the surf and ordering a juice and an açai bowl at 5:30am are quickly disappearing. The winter of hot chocolates and porridge is coming.
There is one breakfast food that seems to be especially comforting, like a hug from your nanna. I’m talking shakshuka. Despite its confusing name (people often think you’re just sneezing at them), this Israeli dish is not too far off taking the top spot in my favourite winter dishes list, brunch or otherwise. Forget measly pieces of avocado on bread for brekkie: this is a meal to put hair on your chest.
Delicious tomato, basil leaves and spices create a wonderful base for eggs and sauce, running all over a piece of sourdough bread loaded up with smoky butter. I know; I can hear you salivating. But what makes shakshuka such a special brunch dish, and why is everyone who orders it so smug?
Is it because this slightly foreign breakfast food gives off the feeling that we have finally found the holy grail of breakfast foods, perhaps even hurdling the eggs benedict? Is it because it sometimes includes kale? Maybe we’ll never know. But for restaurateurs, the resurrection of this breakfast dish and its introduction into mainstream culture has been a lifesaver, as it’s a great way to use up leftover ingredients from lunch the day before. Two poached eggs baked lightly in a tomato sauce in the oven – and served with a side of haloumi and avocado – is a surefire way to create a cheap, filling and delicious winter warmer that everyone will enjoy.
Here are three of the best shakshukas we’ve found in Sydney so far.
☞ Little Giant Roasters in Willoughby serves a shakshuka as big your face, presented in a cast iron dish, sprinkled with parsley. Simple, clean, elegant – although the combination of flavours is anything but. Basil, chilli and rosemary blend together with chopped chorizo, and there are giant pieces of wholegrain toast to mop it all up with. The tomato is rich and creamy, and not at all overpowering. At $18 you won’t be left feeling anything less than full and warm.
☞ The true masters of the shakshuka are those people who’ve eaten them for breakfast since before they could spell ‘egg’. The fellas down at Shuk Bondi have this gorgeous dish down to a fine art. On offer is the traditional shakshuka with capsicum, tomato, onion, spices, eggs, olives and sourdough; as well as a green version with fennel, zucchini, kale, caramelised onion and feta. While you’re there, make sure to try the hummus with slow cooked lamb – it’s pretty obvious here that Israeli food Israeli-good.
☞ Along with their CBD and Rosebery locations, Grandma’s At McEvoy, Alexandria is one of the go-to institutions in Sydney for a great bowl of baked eggs. A good shakshuka is all about the herbs, and this place uses them to pack a punch. It’s strong on basil and chilli to enhance the tomato flavours, but stay away from the classic if you’re not a fan of heat. Grandma cooks up a number of mouth-watering versions of the dish, and apart from the classic shakshuka, the beef bolognese shakshuka and the wood fired eggplant and tomato shakshuka are guaranteed brunch knockouts. All the bread is homemade and melts in your mouth, and there’s great coffee to boot. ■
[Shakshuka main photo by Cyclonebill – Flickr]