Friday, November 12, 2010

Shalom/Salaam: It's Street Eats (Revisited) and Shakshuka

Navigating the streets with a little help from Saveur magazine
Jerusalem is an unbelievable city. Yes, sadly, it has known war and conflict for thousands of years. But it is also where kings built temples and religions were born (which is interesting to me, though I'm an agnostic). There are mosques, churches and synagogues. There are the market stalls of Machane Yehuda and the Arab souk. There is loud music and the calls to prayer emanating from the minarets. There are the sounds of people rushing to worship at the Wailing Wall and cab drivers who honk their horns incessantly. There is commotion and noise. But you can find pockets of silence in the city's old quarters too. And the food is some of the tastiest in the world. 
Palestinians and Israelis of all ethnic backgrounds-- German, Polish and Hungarian Jews, Armenians, Ethiopians, Copts, Russians, Moroccans, Greek Orthodox, Yemenis and Iraqis-- call this city home. All those diverse backgrounds give Jerusalem a wonderful culinary scene. It's where I've had some of  the best food I've ever eaten. Hummus, baba ganoush, falafel, labneh and fatoosh salad are some of my regional favorites. There are pillars of halvah, barrels of olives, eggplants, dates, pomegranates, pine nuts, pistachios, spices and the freshest, most amazing pita on almost every corner. There are also incredible sweets (kanafeh is my favorite, rugelach is up there too) and challah bread that is so good you could eat two loaves of in just one sitting. 
Many thanks to Saveur Magazine for directing my inner foodie on the streets of the Jerusalem, in a little place called the Middle East.
The best falafel in the New City
Palestinian Bread Vendor, Jaffa Gate

Dome of the Rock Zaatar Spice, Arab Quarter, Old City
Levy Brother's Falafel, New City 
Iraqi dish (I forgot the name), Azura, New City
My favorite breakfast on our trip was the eponymous dish at Dr. Shakshuka in Jaffa, on the Mediterranean coast. Shakshuka, also spelled Shakshouka, consists of poached eggs, tomatoes, peppers, onions and spices. It probably originated in Tunisia (though some say Libya) and was made popular in Israel by Tunisian immigrants in the 1940's and 50's.  Where ever it comes from, you'll be hard pressed to have any of it left over on your plate.
I made my own Shakshuka when I got home, using a recipe from Smitten Kitchen (adapted from Saveur) which I adjusted only slightly:
Shakshuka [Eggs Poached in Spicy Tomato Sauce]
Serves 4 to 6
1/4 cup olive oil
3 Anaheim chiles or 3 jalapeños, stemmed, seeded, and finely chopped
1 small yellow onion, chopped
5 cloves garlic, crushed then sliced
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon paprika
1 28-ounce can whole peeled tomatoes, undrained
Kosher salt, to taste
6 eggs
1/2 cup feta cheese, crumbled
1 tablespoon chopped flat-leaf parsley
Warm pitas, for serving
Heat oil in a 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat. Add chiles and onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft and golden brown, about 6 minutes. Add garlic, cumin, and paprika, and cook, stirring frequently, until garlic is soft, about 2 more minutes.
Put tomatoes and their liquid into a medium bowl and crush with your hands. Add crushed tomatoes and their liquid to skillet along with 1/2 cup water, reduce heat to medium, and simmer, stirring occasionally, until thickened slightly, about 15 minutes. Season sauce with salt.
Crack eggs over sauce so that eggs are evenly distributed across sauce’s surface. Cover skillet and cook until yolks are just set, about 5 minutes. Using a spoon, baste the whites of the eggs with tomato mixture, being careful not to disturb the yolk. Sprinkle shakshuka with feta and parsley and serve with pitas, for dipping.
We had amazing Shakshuka the day we set-off for our day trip to Petra, Jordan.
All this food is making me think it is time to take a trip back to Tanoreen in Bay Ridge, for amazing Middle-Eastern food (though shakshuka is not on the menu).   
If anyone is able to get me Rawia's recipes, I will pay top dollar!
Shalom and Salaam!
شهية طيبة, Bi'Tayavon and Bon Appetite!
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  1. I ate at Tanoreen last weekend - she came out and chatted us up. I asked her about the Tanoreen spice mix - she said it includes rosebuds! Call me if you want to make a mezze table soon!

  2. That is one fabulous recipe! Thanks for bringing it to my attention. Those pictures are gorgeous. Now I don't know if I should visit Denver or head to Jerusalem. Decisions, decision!