Shakshuka first originated in North Africa — the former Ottoman Empire and specifically, Tunisia — after tomatoes were introduced to the region through the Columbian exchange. When immigration between Israel and North African countries was heavy and the immigrants suffered financially, Shakshuka, being both hearty and affordable, quickly became a staple dish. Not only was this dish an affordable option, but it was also one that was extremely easy to prepare. Shakshuka translates to “mixed up” which reflects the way in which the dish is prepared. It is essentially poached eggs cooked in a tomato stew with veggies and other spices thrown into one pan, which is then cooked on low heat until it is in its desired consistency.
I was first introduced to Shakshuka last fall at a cafe called Tatte Bakery & Café in Washington, D.C. and ever since then, Shakshuka has become one of my favorite dishes to make — I even purchased a “shakshuka” enamel pin. Tatte was founded by Tzurit Or, a self-taught pastry chef who grew up in Israel. Her Jewish roots and shakshuka’s popularity in Israel likely inspired her to add this delicious dish to the menu.
It is quite popular in the Middle East and you’ll find many variations of it in Israel and Egypt. It was known that Jewish citizens living in the Ottoman Maghreb would make a vegetarian variation of the dish while Tunusian Jewish people would make the spicy version with eggs. I personally like using eggs in my Shakshuka because it adds a more filling aspect to the dish.
Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 30 minutes
- 3 tbsp of olive oil
- 1 large onion (chopped)
- 1-2 green bell peppers (chopped)
- 2 cloves of minced garlic
- 1 tsp of ground cumin
- 1 tsp sweet paprika
- ⅛ tsp ground cayenne
- 28 ounces of tomatoes chopped
- 5 ounces of feta (crumbles)
- 6 large eggs
- Chopped cilantro for serving
- Heat oil in a large pan over medium-low heat.
- Add onion and bell pepper to the pan.
- Cook and mix for about 20 minutes. Cook until the onion and bell pepper are soft.
- After that, add your garlic and stir with the veggies.
- Cook for 1-2 minutes until tender.
- Stir in cumin, paprika and cayenne for taste.
- Cook the veggies and spices for 1 minute.
- Add tomatoes and season with salt and pepper.
- Simmer for about 10 minutes — until tomatoes thicken.
- Stir in crumbled feta evenly into the stew.
- Now, add in your eggs, cracking them evenly throughout the pan.
- Cover the skillet so that the egg cooks — I only cover mine for a minute or two because I prefer my eggs to have more of a runny consistency.
The feta cheese adds a perfect amount of sharpness to the otherwise fresh taste from the tomato and other veggies. The last time I made this dish, I also added vegan ground beef — made from soy — that added a texture of meat, which I personally enjoy. This authentic dish is not only healthy and filling, but it is also a dish full of spices and flavors bursting with each bite.
A great side that goes well with Shakshuka is pita bread, which also originates in the Middle East and Mediterranean. Some other sides that are recommended and go well with Shakshuka are red pepper hummus, roasted cauliflower hummus and carrot and turmeric hummus! Whether or not you decide to include these sides, this dish will be perfect for the colder season and a great way to start off your day as a traditional breakfast meal. So, hurry to your kitchen to make this simple, one-pan dish perfect for a warm and filling breakfast or brunch.