The name doesn’t really roll off the tongue on a hungover morning but this recipe, which uses a combination of eggs and spicy tomato sauce — similar to the Mexican huevos rancheros, though with a distinctively North African/Middle Eastern flavor — offers a memorably fiery blast-off to a day that might otherwise have proved drab and dull.
Shakshuka is usually thought of as an Israeli breakfast dish, but in fact is eaten widely in Morocco, Tunisia, Algeria, and Yemen too. The only slightly unusual ingredient is the smoked paprika, which gives the tomato sauce a wonderful smoky richness.
This version is quite spicy; if you prefer a milder dish, you can halve the quantities of jalapeño, pepper, and paprika.
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- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- ½ onion, diced
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 jalapeño, seeded and finely sliced
- ½ red sweet bell pepper, seeded and chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, crushed and chopped
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- One 14-ounce can chopped tomatoes
- Pinch of superfine sugar
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- 4 free-range eggs
- 2 large pita breads, cut in half
- A few leaves flat-leaf parsley, for garnish
Turn on the broiler.
Heat the olive oil in a frying pan over medium heat and cook the onion for 5-7 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onion has softened and taken on a slight golden color.
Add the bay leaves, jalapeño, red pepper, and garlic, and stir. Keep stirring and cook for 1 more minute.
Add the cumin and paprika and continue stirring for another minute.
Stir in the tomatoes and a pinch of superfine sugar, season with salt and pepper, and leave to simmer on low heat for about 7 minutes, stirring occasionally.
When the sauce has thickened, make 4 small “craters” in the tomato mixture and break one egg into each crater.
Leave the mixture on low heat for 2 minutes, until the egg whites begin to set, then place the frying pan under a medium broiler for 3-4 minutes, keeping a careful watch to make sure the egg yolks don’t fully set; runny yolks are essential.
Take the frying pan out from under the broiler, season the eggs with salt and pepper, and set aside while you toast the pita breads.
Toast the pita breads under the broiler for about 1 minute.
Lift the eggs out of the sauce, placing 2 on each plate and spoon the sauce alongside, removing the bay leaves. Garnish with a little flat-leaf parsley. Place the pita breads on the side of each plate and make sure you use them to dip into the delicious sauce.
Shakshuka (North African–Style Poached Eggs in Spicy Tomato Sauce) Recipe
Why It Works
- Charring the peppers and onions gives them another dimension of flavor.
- Whole canned tomatoes have better flavor than diced, and are more consistent year-round than fresh ones.
- Spooning the tomato mixture over the egg whites helps them set faster, allowing you to leave the yolks runnier.
Though it's North African in origin, these days shakshuka is popular throughout the Middle East (particularly in Israel, where it may as well be one of the national dishes) and in hip neighborhood diners all over the coastal US. Given its versatility, it's easy to see why. It's quick it's simple it's easy to scale up or down and it works for breakfast, brunch, lunch, dinner, or a midnight snack.
All of a sudden, the whole world seems to be going shakshuka. And that’s a good thing. Seriously.
Once beloved only by cooks who follow Middle Eastern traditions, shakshuka — essentially eggs cooked in a spicy tomato sauce — had a breakout moment a couple of years ago, thanks to Yotam Ottolenghi’s cookbook “Plenty.”
Granted, that popularity boom hasn’t been quite so heated as the run on eggplants inspired by the book’s cover photo, but shakshuka is definitely turning up in places it never had before. Like my house.
After several months of playing around with the dish, I decided to get serious and really try to understand it. That required several weeks of testing shakshuka recipes from various sources, and after going through pounds of peppers and tomatoes and a couple dozen eggs, I’m here to say quite definitively that shakshuka is delicious — however you fix it.
In reality, shakshuka is more an idea than a recipe. Like so many traditional dishes, it is almost infinitely variable, adapting itself to the tastes of different countries, regions, cities, families and even individuals. It’s no more a single recipe than, say, “spaghetti with tomato sauce” is.
The most basic recipe I tried was from Claudia Roden’s encyclopedic “The New Book of Middle Eastern Food”: fry peppers, add garlic and tomatoes, drop in the eggs. But because this is shakshuka, she also has variations: variously adding harissa, caraway seeds, preserved lemon, capers, cooked potatoes, zucchini, eggplant, onions and — one that I’m going to file away for later — frying it with merguez sausages.
Most of the recipes I found included some kind of bell pepper, but there were many that did not. There’s not even any definitive agreement on how the dish should be spelled in English. Some prefer chakchouka, others go with shakshouka. Transliteration, like cooking, is an art, not a science.
If you want a perfect example of how diverse shakshuka recipes can be, you need only compare the two most recent Ottolenghi books.
In 2010’s “Plenty,” the version that drove the dish’s recent popularity, the tomato sauce is flavored with a very complex, fairly restaurant-y combination of onions, red and yellow peppers, sugar, bay leaves, fresh thyme, parsley, cilantro, saffron and cumin.
In “Jerusalem,” which came out in 2012, the shakshuka comes from his co-writer and business partner Sami Tamimi and is a more stripped-down version, that complex spicing abbreviated by the substitution of harissa, with only cumin added.
In testing the recipes, I learned that I like peppers in my tomato sauce — they add sweetness and a certain silky texture. I like harissa for heat and complexity (brands vary in spice, start low and add more to taste). I like cumin, which adds an earthy bitterness to the chile heat.
And, in my own addition to the shakshuka scramble, I add a little bit of Spanish pimenton de la Vera — radical, perhaps, but the smokiness adds another layer of complexity.
It’s my shakshuka and I’ll add it if I want to. I’m just following tradition.
This authentic Shakshuka recipe is easy to make and never fails to impress.
- 1 large onion, diced
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 10 medium tomatoes, chopped
- 3 tablespoons tomato paste
- 2 to 3 tablespoons chicken bullion powder, vegetarian
- 6 eggs
- Coat the bottom of large skillet in oil. Sauté the onions and garlic until they start to soften.
- Add tomatoes, tomato paste, chicken soup powder, and enough water to almost cover the tomatoes.
- Simmer on a low flame, occasionally pressing down on the tomatoes with the bottom of your spatula until you have a very thick sauce. Add salt and pepper to taste.
- Indent the sauce and drop the eggs into that spot and continue simmering until the whites are cooked but the yolk is still runny.
For best results, cover the shakshuka with a lid after adding the eggs so they cook quicker and more evenly.
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Green Shakshuka Recipe
Start to Finish: 20
- 3-4 Tbsp. Bulletproof Grass-Fed Ghee
- 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 1 zucchini, diced
- 1 tsp. cumin
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 1 bunch of chard or silverbeet, de-stemmed and chopped
- 5-6 large eggs
- 1/4 cup fresh cilantro or parsley, chopped
- 1 large avocado, sliced for garnish
- Heat 1-2 Tbsp. ghee in a frying pan on medium heat.
- Add the diced zucchini and cook until it has some color.
- Add 2 Tbsp. ghee into the pan to melt along with the garlic, chopped greens and salt. Cover with lid and allow everything to steam for a few minutes.
- Give the mix a good stir. When the greens have softened, flatten the mixture with a spatula and create 5-6 small wells.
- Crack the eggs into each well and cook until they are done to your liking. (Hint: Use the lid to create steam and speed up the process!)
- Sprinkle fresh herbs on top, garnish with sliced avocado and add extra salt, if desired.
- Serve up a portion of this green shakshuka recipe, dig in and enjoy!
Nutritional Information (1 serving):
- Calories: 149
- Fat: 13.2g
- Saturated Fat: 7.2g
- Cholesterol: 80mg
- Salt: 474mg
- Carbs: 6.7g
- Fiber: 2.2g
- Sugar: 1.7g
- Protein: 4g
How to Make Shakshuka
Obviously there are many versions of this recipe, but this is my simple version. As usual I love simplifying recipes, so to do this I used store bought marinara sauce. I also used about a tsp of red chili flakes which for me, gives this dish just the right amount of heat, but feel free to adjust that based on your preference.
And of course, let’s not forget about the cheesy part. I used fresh mozzarella cheese, I didn’t shred it or anything, I just cut it in slices and then added it around the eggs. As this bakes the cheese melts, turning this dish into cheesy goodness. To me this is the perfect start to any day.
Bake this at 375 F degrees for about 8 to 10 minutes just until the eggs set.
Bake the shakshuka recipe
Once your yolks have achieve the coveted jammy status, it is time to remove the shakshuka recipe from the oven. Castellano recommends topping the colorful creation with crumbled feta cheese and fresh herbs — either cilantro or parsley, depending on your preference. Feel free to season your plate with additional salt and pepper as well.
Meanwhile, Castellano also noted to Mashed that shakshuka is really best served warm. We asked how the dish would preserve as leftovers, and she reiterated to us, "This is best enjoyed hot and fresh." We cannot wait to dig into this easy yet delicious egg creation that is bound to inspire compliments from friends and family.
Just don't forget to toast up some crusty bread to scoop up every last bite of your shakshuka. And bookmark this recipe so you can make it again and again — we are pretty sure you will fall in love with it!
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 large onion, diced
- ½ cup sliced fresh mushrooms
- 1 teaspoon salt, or more to taste
- 1 cup diced red bell pepper
- 1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and sliced
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- ½ teaspoon paprika
- ½ teaspoon ground turmeric
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste
- ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1 (28 ounce) can crushed San Marzano tomatoes, or other high-quality plum tomatoes
- ½ cup water, or more as needed
- 6 large eggs
- 2 tablespoons crumbled feta cheese
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
Heat olive oil in a large, heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Add onions and mushrooms. Sprinkle with salt. Cook and stir until mushrooms release all of their liquid and start to brown, about 10 minutes. Stir in bell peppers and jalapeno pepper. Cook and stir until peppers begin to soften up, about 5 minutes. Season with cumin, paprika, turmeric, black pepper, and cayenne. Stir and cook to "wake up" the flavors, about 1 minute. Pour in crushed tomatoes and water. Adjust heat to medium and simmer uncovered until veggies are softened and sweet, stirring occasionally, 15 to 20 minutes. Add more water if sauce becomes too thick.
Make a depression in the sauce for each egg with a large spoon. Crack egg into a small ramekin and slide gently into each indentation repeat with the rest of the eggs. Season with salt and pepper. Cover and cook until eggs are to your desired doneness.
Top with feta cheese and parsley.
This Middle-Eastern method of having poached eggs for breakfast involves baking the eggs in a earthy paprika tomato sauce, spiced lightly with chilli and capsicum.
- 20 ml (1 tbsp) olive oil
- 1 onion, finely diced
- 2 garlic cloves, crushed
- 1 red capsicum (pepper), finely diced
- 2 long chillies, finely diced
- 2 tbsp tomato paste (concentrated purée)
- 1 tsp sweet paprika
- 1 tsp smoky paprika
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 425 g (1 lb) tin diced or crushed tomatoes
- ½ tsp brown sugar
- 500 g (about ½ a bunch) kale, stalks removed and finely sliced
- 6 eggs
- 1 small handful parsley sprigs
- fresh crusty bread, to serve
Oven temperatures are for conventional if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
Heat the oil in a medium heavy-based frying pan over medium-high heat. Add the onion, garlic, capsicum and chilli. Cook for 3–5 minutes, or until tender and slightly caramelised.
Add the tomato paste, paprika and cumin and cook for 1 minute, or until fragrant. Add the tomato and sugar, and stir to combine. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook for 15–20 minutes.
Add the kale and stir through the tomato sauce. Crack the eggs one by one into the tomato mixture in the pan.
Reduce the heat to low and cook for 5 minutes, or until the eggs are cooked the way you like. Scatter over the parsley, season with salt and pepper, and serve with fresh crusty bread.
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 ½ cups thinly sliced onion
- 1 cup thinly sliced red bell pepper
- 1 cup thinly sliced yellow bell pepper
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 ½ cups unsalted crushed tomatoes
- ⅓ cup chopped fresh cilantro
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- ¾ teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 teaspoons sherry vinegar
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- Cooking spray
- 6 large eggs
Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add oil swirl to coat. Add onion, bell peppers, and garlic. Cook 10 minutes or until vegetables are very soft, stirring occasionally. Add tomatoes and next 6 ingredients (through paprika) cook 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Divide mixture evenly among 6 (8-ounce) ramekins coated with cooking spray.
Working with 1 ramekin at a time, make a slight well in sauce. Crack 1 egg into well pierce yolk with tip of a knife. Cover loosely with a paper towel. Microwave at HIGH 2 1/2 minutes or until desired degree of doneness.
To freeze: Place ramekins in refrigerator until cool. Remove cover tightly with plastic wrap and heavy-duty aluminum foil. Transfer ramekins to freezer freeze for up to 8 months.
To heat: Remove ramekins from wrapping. Microwave 1 ramekin, covered loosely with a damp paper towel, at HIGH for 2 minutes. Remove from microwave, and stir. Make a slight well in sauce. Add 1 large egg pierce yolk with the tip of a sharp knife. Cover loosely with paper towel. Microwave an additional 2 1/2 minutes or to desired degree of doneness.