I still cannot get over the depression from the holidays being over and having to get back to life already. Same weighing down feeling when school would reopen after two very short months of summer holidays. Blazing hot sun outside on those unforgiving Indian summers would feel like nothing at that time. Friends and cousins would be gathered and the games and chatter wouldn’t end till the end of dusk and that final call from home. Quick wash, dinner and hit the sack for the next morning would bring another day filled with pure fun and doing nothing else.
Well like every beautiful dream and every intriguing chapter, it had to come to an end. So did those happy vacations and would leave this emptiness in the stomach. That empitness would deepen with every thought of school opening the next day. Remember that? Well, I’m feeling the same emptiness. As we say in hindi, “chutti khatam, school shuru” meaning vacations over and it’s back to school! We spent these last couple weeks of last year doing exactly what we did with those summer holidays as kids – nothing! Much needed, no agenda, time we had as a family and it was beautiful. Relaxing, refreshing and rejuvenating. Probably that’s the reason I’ve been living the past couple days in denial that it’s all over and it’s back to the grind. Back to waking up before the sun, making to-do lists and ticking things off, pressing keys on a computer till the end of time. Gosh, depressing! But I guess this is life and it’s beautiful in its own ways.
The butterfly loves cooking with me in the kitchen. That’s our favorite mommy and me time and these past couple weeks we got to do that a lot. We baked a ton, cookies, tarts, cakes and yes, also ate them all! Then she took next step in her culinary journey and finally learnt how to hold a chefs knife. Watched her maa very carefully before she got over her fear and chopped some of the most beautiful onions and tomatoes I’ve ever seen in my life. I might be a little biased here (for understandable reasons) but I think that six year old of mine is a rockstar!
So anyway, together we made quite a few meals recently and I am sharing one of my favorites here today. Shakshouka or Shakshuka. But before I share the recipe, I just want to put a disclaimer here in public interest. With this recipe I am in no way trying to claim that I know shakshouka more than in a superficial way. This is my family’s take on this Isreali dish. We played around with the recipe and came up with something that suits my family’s palette. Thank you very much for bearing with me! OK, now off to the recipe which I think is a killer because a) there’s fennel root in it and there are very few things in the world that can compare to the aroma of chopped fennel and b) I put feta in there too. And now I rest my case!
2-3 tablespoons olive oil
1 head of fennel root (thinly sliced)
3-4 garlic cloves (thinly sliced)
1/4 cup frozen corn (thawed)
1/4 cup frozen peas (thawed)
1 can diced tomatoes
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
1 teaspoon roasted cumin powder
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon crushed black pepper
5 extra large eggs
Salt to taste
1/4 cup fresh cilantro (chopped)
Preheat the oven to 375 deg. F
Heat oil in a thick bottom pan. Add fennel. Sautee on medium heat for 13-15 minutes until its lightly golden.
Add garlic. Cook for 3-5 minutes on medium low heat.
Add corn and peas. Quick stir. Add cumin, cayenne and black pepper. Mix well.
Add canned tomatoes and salt. Mix well. Cook on medium heat for 8-10 minutes until the sauce is slightly thickened. Stir in feta cheese.
Crack the eggs on top of the sauce. Transfer into to oven and bake for 7-10 minutes for runny eggs and 13-15 for a firm yolk.
Garnish with cilantro. Serve with pita or your choice of bread and if you want to break the rules a little more, serve them on top of a bowl of fragrant steamed basmati rice.
Some more single pan recipes from friends:
Tadka Pasta by Prathima
Quick Masala Khichdi by Smruti
Brown Fried Rice by Dolphia
Spanish Chicken and Rice by Dolphia
Mexican Chicken and Orzo by Anjana