Note: this column originally ran in the Montana Kaimin on March 24. No, I don’t have a pretty picture to go with it. You’ll have to use your imagination. Do we have those anymore?
Not so long ago, my definition of exotic cuisine was rice with soy sauce. So sue me, I grew up in rural eastern Montana, where my dad still doesn’t know exactly what hummus is. Since moving to Missoula, my mission has been to try new cuisines. Missoula rocks for this. We have cheap Vietnamese and Thai places and high-class pan-Asian joints. We don’t have an Indian restaurant anymore, and believe you me, I weep for the demise of Tipu’s.
But anybody can eat at a restaurant. My new challenge is learning how to cook in different styles on a college kid’s budget. It’s mostly a matter of finding the recipes. In most parts of the world, people cook simple things on a day-to-day basis. Thanks to our friend globalization, it’s not as hard as it used to be to find spices and ingredients from around the world.
Take this shakshouka, for instance. Sounds fancy, right? It’s eggs cooked in a spicy tomato sauce. Variations of it exist all across North Africa and Central Asia. It’s sometimes a breakfast dish, but you can make it anytime. Add feta cheese and serve it with pita bread for a little extra flair.
Shakshouka (serves 2)
- ½ onion, diced
- 1 hot pepper, diced
- 1 can crushed tomatoes
- Dash cayenne, paprika, cumin
- 4 to 5 eggs
- Feta cheese (optional)
In a large skillet, saute onion and pepper. Add crushed tomatoes and spices. Let simmer until the tomatoes have broken down into a sauce, or about 5 minutes. Using your spatula, make little wells in the sauce for your eggs to go in. Crack in eggs. Put on the lid and let cook another 8 to 10 minutes, or until eggs are set. Serve immediately. Crumble a little feta cheese on top if you like.