Shakshouka is popular across the Eastern Mediterranean, Arabian Peninsula and North Africa. This Israeli version is perfect for breakfast, brunch or lunch!
|Preparation Time: 5 minutes||Cooking Time: 20-25 minutes|
|Difficulty: Moderate||Serves: 4 (As a snack/light meal)|
- 2 tablespoons of olive oil
- 400g/14oz/2 cups of fresh tomatoes, chopped (use a mix of salad and cherry tomatoes if possible)
- A heaped teaspoon of paprika
- A pinch of salt
- One or two chili peppers, sliced into rings
- 4 eggs
- A green pepper, chopped (optional)
- Two cloves of garlic, minced (optional)
- A heaped teaspoon of cumin (optional)
- Pitta bread or Challah (optional, to serve)
Make it vegan: Israel’s second city, Tel Aviv, is considered by many to be the vegan capital of the world, so lots of vegan options have been developed for Shakshouka!
You just need to omit the eggs. Try replacing them with slices of silken tofu or dollops of creamed corn. Poach these in the Shakshouka as you would the eggs (steps 5-6). Alternatively, you can substitute the eggs with dollops of cashew ricotta or vegan cream cheese: these don’t need to be poached and can be spooned onto the finished Shakshouka.
For a little extra protein, add some chickpeas to the Shakshouka. The best time to do this is just after you’ve crushed the tomatoes (step 4.) Drain a tin of chickpeas, stir them in, and continue onto step 5.
- A skillet, tagine or large frying pan with lid
- A spatula
- Add the oil to the skillet and set it over a high heat.
- If you’re using green peppers, add these to the pan first and sauté them, stirring occasionally, for five minutes.
- Turn the hob down to medium and add the chili pepper(s), chopped tomatoes, salt and paprika, along with the garlic and cumin (if using.) Sauté the ingredients for five minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Crush the contents of the skillet with a spatula, so that the tomatoes begin to release their liquid. Continue to cook for a further 5-10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Crush the contents of the skillet once or twice more with the spatula while it’s cooking, so that the tomatoes continue to release juice. If the liquid dries up and you’re worried about the Shakshouka burning, it’s time to move onto step 5.
- Turn the heat down low. Make 4 dimples in the Shakshouka and crack an egg into each one.
- Cover the pan. Cook the Shakshouka for a further 4-6 minutes, or until the eggs are cooked. Don’t stir.
- Serve immediately: you can eat it straight from the pan.
- B’tayavon! (בתיאבון)
- For best results, use a mix of different breeds of fresh tomato
Home: Israel, Morocco, Yemen
Pronunciation /ʃækˈʃu kə/ (shack-shoe-kah)
Relatives: Şakşuka (Turkey), Menemen (Turkey), Uova in Purgatorio (Italy), Lecsó (Hungary), Galayet Bandora (Jordan), Matbukha (Maghreb)
Shakshouka is eaten across the Maghreb, Levant and Arabian Peninsula. It’s a popular dish in Algeria, Egypt, Libya, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia and Yemen, and is particularly associated with Israel.
Because Shakshouka is popular in so many different countries, we don’t know the dish’s exact origins.
We do know that after the tomato was introduced to Eurasia, various forms of tomato stew became popular in Anatolia, the Levant, Maghreb, Arabian Peninsula and Horn of Africa. Many of these tomato stews were adapted from older regional stews. We aren’t exactly sure when the tomato was introduced to these areas. The fruit was brought to Europe from South America by Spanish Conquistadors and/or Jesuits in the late 15th or early 16th centuries, and by 1548, the pomodoro had been introduced to Italy. But it didn’t become a popular food there for centuries, and it allegedly wasn’t introduced to the Levant until the early 19th century! It was, however, eaten from the get-go in Spain, where it was often used in place of aubergines. So it seems unlikely that tomatoes would have been completely unknown in the western Maghreb until the 1800s. Whenever tomatoes reached North Africa and the Eastern Mediterranean, they eventually became a popular ingredient in regional meat and vegetable stews.
One or several of these stews inspired modern Shakshouka. The Ottoman Empire’s Şakşuka (a dish of sauteed vegetables and minced liver which later incorporated tomatoes) is likely to have been an inspiration. Modern Shahshouka‘s origins have also been attributed to Yemen, Morocco, and Tunisia. Not only is Shakshouka still popular in all three countries today, but the word Shakshouka is itself an Arabic word of Berber (western Maghrebi) origin, meaning ‘all mixed up’. At its height the Ottoman Empire stretched as far into the Maghreb as Algiers, so it’s possible that Arab Shakshouka inspired Ottoman Şakşuka, or vice versa. So Shakshouka likely has Yemeni, North African and Turkish roots.
Modern Yemeni cuisine is an interesting amalgamation of Arab, Ottoman and Mughal cuisines. Yemen’s national dish is Saltah, a meat stew flavoured with fenugreek and a local hot sauce, Zhug: other popular foods include chili peppers, lamb, honey and milk. Yemeni Shakshouka has a higher ratio of egg to tomato than Israeli or Maghrebi Shakshouka, and it tends to contain lots of onion and Zhug.
Moroccan cuisine has Andalusian, Arab and Berber roots. Maghrebi green tea is an important part of daily life. Couscous and tagines are staple foods, and are flavoured with dried apricots, preserved lemons, and a range of herbs and spices. Moroccan Shakshouka is served in a tagine: it’s lower on eggs than Yemeni Shakshouka, doesn’t tend to contain onions, and is often garnished with parsley. Shakshouka from elsewhere in the Maghreb varies by country, but in general tends to contain peppers, onions, and copious amounts of spice.
Israeli cuisine is a bit of a melting pot. The ancient Israelites’ ‘Seven Species’- olives, figs, dates, pomegranates, wheat, barley and grapes- remain an important component of the country’s cuisine. Levantine dishes from the surrounding region (Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Palestine and Syria) are also popular, as are foods introduced by Jewish diasporas from the late nineteenth century onward.
From Israel’s foundation in 1948 until around 1970, Sephardi and Mizrahi Jews left Arab and Turkic lands en masse for the new country. Shakshouka was likely introduced by Tunisian Jews, whose Maghrebi Shakshouka was known to be particularly spicy. The new immigrants tended to suffer from financial hardship, so they ate quick, simple and cheap Shakshouka often. As such the dish quickly become popular across Israel. Israeli Shakshouka contains lots of tomatoes and some spice, and sometimes contains extra ingredients like onion, garlic and peppers. Vegan versions are popular, as are newer recipes like spinach and lemon Shakshouka.