In Israel and other regions of the Middle East and North Africa, shakshuka is a simple, healthy breakfast (or any time of day) meal. It's just simmering tomatoes, onions, garlic, spices, and softly poached eggs. It's full and nourishing, and I guarantee you'll cook it again and again.
I first tried shakshuka on a vacation to Egypt with my mother many years ago. I recall falling in love with the food and its basic yet powerful tastes and spices. Thus, when I returned to Israel, where shakshuka is virtually a national dish, it was the dinner I was most anxious to have.
I spent two weeks traveling around Israel (on the most amazing trip) and had several opportunities to consume shakshuka. To be honest, I saw it as "research" in order to deliver you a true, Tel Aviv-inspired interpretation.
IS TEL AVIV THE SHAKSHUKA CAPITAL?
Tel Aviv, which I'll go into more detail about in a later piece, is a bustling, energetic, hip, outdoor cafe-vibe type of city. I had no idea what to anticipate from Tel Aviv, but let me tell you, it blew me away. The city has a young vibe, and I met some of the warmest, most welcoming individuals.
Tel Aviv has beautiful Mediterranean weather all year, but the cuisine scene is definitely something to write home about. I ate. And then I ate. And then I ate. Everything is fresh, veggie-heavy, herb-laden, and flavor-layered. It's a wonderful city for vegetarians and everyone who enjoys great cuisine.
WHAT IS SHAKSHUKA?
Shakshuka is a traditional North African and Middle Eastern dish that may be eaten for breakfast or any other meal of the day. It's vegetarian and created using basic, nutritious ingredients. Shakshuka literally means "a combination," and the classic form is made with tomatoes, onions, and spices, with poached eggs on top.
Nowadays, there are numerous shakshuka versions available, such as my Green Shakshuka with Brussels sprouts and spinach and my Orange Shakshuka with butternut squash. You may also add feta or goat cheese to suit your tastes. The possibilities are unlimited, which is why this meal is a national favorite (in so many nations!).
IS SHAKSHUKA SPICY?
Shakshuka spices can vary, but paprika, cumin, chili powder, and raw garlic are popular. It's tasty spicy, not scorching spicy, in my opinion. If you love spicy food, you can add cayenne pepper.
HOW DO YOU MAKE SHAKSHUKA
Shakshuka is a simple dish to prepare, especially if you use tinned tomatoes (though you can always use fresh tomatoes as well). Cook an onion and red bell pepper in a sauté pan with olive oil over medium heat. Toss the vegetables for 5 minutes, or until the onions are transparent.
Next, add the garlic and spices and cook for another minute, or until fragrant. Pour in a 28-ounce can of whole, peeled tomatoes and break them up into smaller pieces with a spatula. When the entire liquid is just boiling, place your eggs on top.
Make small holes for the eggs with your spatula, then crack one egg into each one. I used 6 eggs, but you may use more or fewer depending on the size of your pan. Lower the heat to low, cover the pan, and boil the eggs for another 5-8 minutes, or until done to your preference.
Season the eggs with salt and a good quantity of freshly chopped parsley and cilantro before serving. Enjoy!
SHAKSHUKA RECIPE (EASY & TRADITIONAL)
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 1 red bell pepper, seeded and diced
- 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 2 teaspoon paprika
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- ¼ teaspoon chili powder
- 1 28-ounce can whole peeled tomatoes
- 6 large eggs
- salt and pepper, to taste
- 1 small bunch fresh cilantro, chopped
- 1 small bunch fresh parsley, chopped
- Heat olive oil in a large sauté pan on medium heat. Add the chopped bell pepper and onion and cook for 5 minutes or until the onion becomes translucent.
- Add garlic and spices and cook an additional minute.
- Pour the can of tomatoes and juice into the pan and break down the tomatoes using a large spoon. Season with salt and pepper and bring the sauce to a simmer.
- Use your large spoon to make small wells in the sauce and crack the eggs into each well. Cover the pan and cook for 5-8 minutes, or until the eggs are done to your liking.
- Garnish with chopped cilantro and parsley.
- If you're not dairy-free, crumbled feta or goat cheese on top is delicious addition. Traditionally it's also served with pita, but I love to serve it with slices of avocado.
- Many photos online show shakshuka cooked in a cast iron pan. Tomatoes are acidic and may erode the seasoning on your cast iron pan as well as dull the finish. You may also get a slight metallic flavor to the dish. So I recommend not taking any chances and cooking it in a stainless steel pan, like this beauty from All Clad.