According to Wikipedia, Shakshuka is “is a dish of eggs poached in a sauce of tomatoes, chili peppers, and onions, often spiced with cumin”. To me, Shakshuka is the most heavenly breakfast ever created by humans.
I was first introduced to the dish 2 years ago when I began my studies in Israel. I went to visit a friend who lived outside of Jerusalem in a city called Mevaseret Tsion. I stayed for Shabbat and on Saturday morning, a few of my friend’s came over to make breakfast. They started chopping a bunch of veggies and then added some spices and eventually, they cracked some eggs into it. I didn’t know how to feel about it.. I mean sauce and eggs? Sounds like a weird combination. But after trying it, there was no going back.
The great thing about the dish, besides how hearty and filling it is, is how versatile it can be! The basic shakshuka has onion, peppers, tomato, paprika, cumin and eggs. But you can add pretty much anything to the mix. I’ve had it with eggplant, zucchini, different kinds of cheeses. Some people add basil or mint and some keep it simple by taking the traditional route. Personally my favorite add ins are zucchini and feta cheese. I guess you can call it a mediterranean style Shakshuka. Another popular cheese to add is called Halloumi. Its a salty rubbery cheese that originates in Cyprus. It tastes amazing when grilled (it can handle the heat) or pan fried until the exterior is brown and crispy. It can be difficult to find in your average American supermarket, but they sometimes carry it in the kosher section or you can try Whole Foods.
Shakshuka is the perfect Saturday morning breakfast. Its a more healthy option compared to the usual french toast and pancakes. The recipe below is for 2 servings, but you can easily double or triple it to serve a family.
You’ll want to begin by preparing all your veggies. Chop up a small onion, small pepper, 1/2 zucchini, and 1 medium size tomato. Its important to drain some of the tomato juices or else your Shakshuka will come out very watery. In a medium size skillet add ~2 tablespoons of canola/vegetable oil over medium-high heat.
First add the onions and cook for 2 minutes, or until translucent. Next, add the peppers and zucchini and cook for 2 minutes. Crush 2 large cloves of garlic into the pan and let it cook for a minute until aromatic. Add in your spices (salt, paprika, cumin, and red chili flakes) as well as 1 tablespoon of tomato paste. Combine the mixture and then add in your diced (and drained) tomatoes. Lower flame and cover for 8-10 minutes until the mixture is cooked down and bubbling.
Remove the cover and make wells with a spoon (shown in the picture above). Carefully crack 1 egg into each well and add some chopped basil or mint (or both) on top. Cover and allow the eggs to poach to your liking. I like when the whites are cooked but the yolks are still a bit runny, this takes ~4-5 minutes.
And that’s it! Turn the flame off and top with a cheese of your liking (feta, mozzarella, halloumi, etc.) serve with sliced bread and hummus!
Middle Eastern Shakshuka
Serves: 2 people – Prep time: 5 minutes – Cook time: 20 minutes
- 2 tbs vegetable oil
- 1 small onion, diced
- 1 pepper, diced
- 1/2 zucchini, diced
- 1 medium tomato diced; drain excess liquid
- 2 cloves garlic, crushed
- 1/2 tsp Salt
- 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes*
- 1/2 tsp Paprika
- 1/2 tsp Cumin
- 5-6 tbsp tomato paste
- 4 eggs
- Optional add-ins: chopped basil, mint, cheese of your choosing.
- Heat oil in a medium sized skillet over medium-high flame.
- Add onion and cook until translucent around 2 min.
- Add pepper and zucchini, cook about 2 min.
- Add crushed garlic about 1 min, until aromatic.
- Add tomato paste, salt, pepper flakes, paprika, cumin, and diced tomato; mix well.
- Lower heat cover; simmer for 8-10 minutes.
- Remove cover and with a spoon make small wells in the sauce and carefully 1 egg in each.
- Cover for 4-8 mins (depending on how you prefer your eggs).
*You can add more pepper flakes if you like spicy food.