Updated: Jan 17
Learn how to make this delicious Middle Eastern poached eggs and tomatoes dish!
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: about 30 minutes
Serves 8 to 10 people
Gluten/Dairy/Soy Free Ovo-Vegetarian
Shakshuka, aka Shakshouka, means "a mixture" in Arabic and is a fun dish that is very economical, delicious, easy to make, and full of flavor. For less than what you would spend on takeout for the family, you could feed up to 10 people with this dish. So...If you are in need of making breakfast, or dinner, for a large group of people...this is the perfect dish!
This wonderful Middle Eastern dish is made with basic simple ingredients found in any kitchen: eggs, tomatoes, spices, herbs, onions, peppers, and garlic. There is nothing to it and it can be made either on the stovetop, oven, or both! For this particular recipe, I start the process on the stovetop and finish using the oven.
The great thing about Shakshuka is that you can add whatever you want to it! Each country in the Middle East and Northern Africa has a particular way to interpret this dish, so it is not surprising to find many different variations for the same dish.
This is an Ovo-Vegetarian recipe.
What is Shakshuka (Shaksouka)?
Shakshouka is a dish of eggs poached in a sauce of tomatoes, olive oil, peppers, onion and garlic, and commonly spiced with cumin, paprika, cayenne pepper, and nutmeg. The dish has existed in Mediterranean cultures for centuries.
Tomato-based stews, called Shakshouka in the Maghreb, were common throughout the Middle East and former Ottoman Empire. The Ottoman dish şakşuka was originally a dish of cooked vegetables with minced meat or liver (ciġer). Tomato and chili peppers hot/sweet were introduced to the dish much later both having their origin in the Americas and meatless variations evolved. Jews in the Ottoman Maghreb served a pareve vegetarian variation and Tunisian Jews were known for creating spicy versions of egg Shakshouka.
What is the flavor profile?
Savory. Complex. Herbaceous. Full of bold spices.
What ingredients will I need to make this?
Eggs, canned tomatoes, onions, garlic, green and red bell peppers, salt & pepper, ground cumin, sweet paprika, ground coriander, crushed pepper flakes, cayenne pepper, fresh cilantro (coriander), fresh thyme, harissa (optional), hot peppers (optional), and olive oil.
What else will I need?
A large cast iron skillet or skillet, a cutting bard, a knife, measuring spoons, a wooden spoon, and aluminum paper if only cooking on the stovetop.
Can I make substitutions and additions?
If you don't want to use canned tomatoes you can use fresh tomatoes.
If you don't have access to sweet paprika, you can use hot paprika or regular paprika.
You can substitute the fresh cilantro (coriander) for parsley.
You can substitute the red bell pepper for yellow or orange bell peppers.
For additions, you could add feta cheese, Spanish chorizo, or whatever you want to add. The name of the dish literally means "a mixture", so there are not set rules as to what you can or cannot add.
Where is Shakshuka from?
The exact origins of the dish are disputed. Some food historians believe the dish spread to Spain and the greater Middle East from Ottoman Turkey, while others think it originated in Morocco. A third theory is that it is from Yemen, where it is served with zhug, a hot green paste. According to Haaretz the "original Shakshuka" was made with vegetables, hard-boiled eggs, goat meat and fresh garlic.
Are there variations of this dish?
Some variations of Shakshouka can be made with lamb mince, toasted whole spices, yogurt and fresh herbs. Others may include salty cheeses such as feta. Spices can include ground coriander, caraway, paprika, cumin and cayenne pepper. Tunisian cooks may add potatoes, broad beans, artichoke hearts or courgettes to the dish. The North African dish Matbukha can be used as a base for Shakshouka.
In Israel, Shakshouka is made with eggs which are commonly poached but can also be scrambled like the Turkish menemen. A 1979 Israeli cookbook Bishul la-Gever ha-Meshuhrar includes a recipe for Lufgania Shakshuka. This is Shakshouka made with a kosher version of Spam (called loof) that was added to IDF army rations in the 1950s.
Is Shakshuka always served for breakfast?
Because eggs are the main ingredient, it is often on breakfast menus in English-speaking countries, but in Israel, it is also a popular evening meal, and like hummus and falafel, is a national favorite.
What is Harissa?
Harissa is a Tunisian hot chili pepper paste, the main ingredients of which are roasted red peppers, Baklouti peppers or Serrano peppers, spices and herbs such as garlic paste, caraway seeds, coriander seeds, cumin and olive oil to carry the oil-soluble flavors.
Let's Make It!
1 large yellow onion (chipped finely)
5 cloves of garlic (peeled and sliced finely)
1 large green bell pepper (seeded and chopped finely)
1 large red bell pepper (seeded and chopped finely)
1 28 OZ can of crushed tomatoes
1 1/2 teaspoons of sweet paprika
1 1/2 teaspoons of ground cumin
1/2 teaspoons of ground coriander
1 teaspoon of crushed pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon of cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon of harissa (optional)
salt & pepper to taste
fresh cilantro (chopped)
If using the stovetop/oven method, preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
Add 4 tablespoons of olive oil to a skillet over a medium high heat.
Once the oil is hot, add the onion and bell peppers. Cook until soft (about 10 minutes). Add the garlic and cook until fragrant.
Add a generous pinch of both salt and pepper, the ground cumin, ground coriander, paprika, harissa (optional), and crushed pepper flakes. Stir frequently.
Add the crushed tomatoes and 3/4 of the chopped cilantro. Incorporate all and until it begins to thicken (about 5 to 8 minutes).
Using a spoon, make 8 indentations in the Shakshuka and slowly crack the eggs into those indentations without breaking the yolks. Sprinkle the fresh thyme, salt, and pepper over the eggs. Now, you can finish the dish in the oven, like I did, or on the stovetop.
If using an oven: place the skillet in the oven and cook uncover for 12 minutes. Once the time has elapsed, carefully remove the skillet from the oven, garnish with the rest of the cilantro, and serve with gluten free pita or bread.
If using the stovetop: turn heat down to medium low, cover the skillet with aluminum paper, and let it cook for 12 minutes or until the eggs are set. Remove from heat, uncover, garnish with chopped cilantro, and serve.
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