For those who have not heard of it, shakshuka (or "shakshouka") is a fantastic dish of eggs poached in a mixture of tomatoes, peppers, and spices. It is simple to make, and an absolute treat to eat, especially with a group of friends. It's one of those dishes that feel extravagant yet comforting at the same time.
In the past, I have made Portuguese Baked Eggs, a variation on this dish, which is also fantastic.
The name "shakshouka" and the dish's origins are not entirely clear, but it is believed to have come from Tunisia. The name means "a mixture" in Tunisian Arabic, which is a fitting description.
Shakshuka is a very popular dish in Israel, where it was introduced by Tunisian and Maghrebi immigrants. There are countless variations of the dish throughout the Middle East and the diaspora. I chose to prepare the version found on p. 66 of Jerusalem by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi, with some slight modifications.
If you keep kosher or just want to make a delicious, easy, kosher-style meal, shakshuka is a great option. Eggs are parve - meaning neutral, not dairy or meat - so you can complement this dish as you like with either dairy or meat. Shakshuka is supposed to be eaten with pita instead of utensils, but that is up to you.
I prepared this recipe on a whim on a Sunday evening and invited some friends over. It was the perfect way to relax and prepare for the coming work week.
- Two (2) Tbsp. olive oil
- Two (2) Tbsp. harissa or Pilpelchuma - I used Sriracha
- Two (2) tsp. tomato paste
- Two (2) large red bell peppers, diced
- Four (4) cloves of garlic, finely chopped
- One (1) medium white onion, diced
- One (1) tsp, ground cumin
- Five (5) large, ripe tomatoes, chopped
- Six (6) large eggs
- One (1) bunch scallions, chopped
- Salt and pepper
- Greek yogurt
Note: I used a cast-iron skillet because I love cooking with cast iron, but you can use a large frying pan or skillet instead.
1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
2. Heat the olive oil over medium, then add the garlic, onion, peppers, tomato paste, Sriracha, cumin, salt, and pepper. Simmer these until the peppers become soft.
3. Stir in the tomatoes and let simmer for 10 - 15 minutes. You want to create a nice, thick sauce.
4. Once the sauce is ready, make six (6) small indentations in the surface. Crack one (1) egg in each indentation.
5. Place the skillet (uncovered) with the sauce and eggs in the preheated oven and let bake for about 12 minutes. You want the whites to set, but the yolks to still be runny. (I cooked mine a little longer because runny egg yolks bum me out.)
*This step is optional, as you can simmer the sauce covered or uncovered on the stove with the same results.
6. Remove the skillet from the oven, if using that step, and let sit for a few minutes to cool. Be aware that the eggs will still cook in the sauce while it sits. If not using the oven, simply remove the skillet from the heat and let sit.
At this point, you can throw some pita, wrapped in foil, into the oven to warm before serving.
7. Scoop one (1) egg with some sauce onto a plate, top with a dollop of plain Greek yogurt and scallions, and eat with warm pita. The pita is especially key when mopping up the sauce, which you will want to do with great relish.