Shakshuka

Shakshuka

I’ve been meaning to get into the Shakshuka groove ever since I had it for breakfast at Nopi in London, and on my trip to Israel, where this North African dish wowed me – and my taste buds – every morning. Although various versions abound, the most widely known Shakshuka involves eggs softly cooked in a hot skillet of spiced tomato sauce. I’ve had plenty of spicy foods in my life, but the complex seasoning in the sauces that I’ve tasted in the ones I had lingered with me for months afterward, and I had no choice but to make it at home. (Or move to London – or North Africa.)

peppers for shakshuka

I went to the market in search of chile peppers, and I was happy to track down a couple. The long green ones aren’t very piquante, so I was thrilled to come across a box of the pleated red ones, whose name no one knew, but the fellow warned me was “Très piquante, monsieur.” Bring it on! I say. And when I got it home and chopped it up, I can’t complain as I had been adequately warned.

shakshuka spices

I was inspired by recipes in Secrets of the Best Chefs by Adam Roberts, and Jerusalem by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi, two terrific books that I’ve been diving into lately. Jerusalem is a city full of conflict, cultures, clashes, and contrasts. The authors of the book, Sami and Yotam, are Palestinian and Israeli (respectively), and the book has essays on the confusion and collusion in the various cuisines found in this complicated, yet fascinating, city.

chopped peppers for shakshuka tomato paste for shakshuka
shakshuka tomato sauce for shakshuka

Like the other books by Yotam Ottolenghi (and the first one, with Sami) Jerusalem is stunning and leafing through the book of pages awash with grilled vegetables, shimmering olive oil, toasty pine nuts, and plenty of fresh, green herbs strewn everywhere, it’s hard not to bookmark every single page as something I want to make.

spicy tomato sauce for shakshuka

Many of you are likely familiar with Adam Roberts, author of Amateur Gourmet, and Secrets of the Best Chefs, where he visited the kitchens (and in the case of Alice Waters, gardens) of some of America’s best chefs, including Daniel Patterson, Jonathan Waxman, Lidia Bastianich, José Andrés, and Nancy Silverton.

As a self-professed “amateur”, with his typical chutzpah, Adam coaxed these chefs not just to share their recipes, but their secret kitchen tips. And he shares them all in this easy-to-use book with great photos of the in-kitchen action. And, of course, with recipes from the delicious results of his encounters with the chefs, all translated by Adam for home cooks.

shakshuka

I took a cue from both the experts, and the amateur, for this dish of fiery tomato sauce and gently cooked eggs, meant to be sopped up with hunks of crusty bread. Once you have the sauce, you can make dinner in a matter of minutes and when in Tel Aviv, folks I had breakfast with told me that they keep Shakshuka sauce frozen at all times so they can make this dish whenever they want, even at dinner. So feel free to make extra sauce and keep it on hand when the mood hits. I have a few batches in my freezer right now, because that mood has been hitting me more and more these days. And I’m sure it will in the future, as well.

shakshuka recipe 1

Shakshuka

3 to 4 servings

Adapted from Jerusalem by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi and Secrets of the Best Chefs by Adam Roberts.


I’ve made Shakshuka a number of ways; in individual baking dishes, so everyone gets their own portion, to using a large skillet, so folks can eat communally. I’ve given indications for how to do both.

Because everyone likes their eggs cooked differently (which is why when I was cooking in restaurants, I refused to work breakfast shifts – talk about stress!), keep an eye on the Shakshuka as its cooking and use the times indicated as guidelines; various factors can affect cooking times and it’s hard to say precisely how long they will cook. When served, the eggs should be still runny so that the yolks mingle with the spicy sauce.

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, peeled and diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 1/2 – 1 chile pepper (or to taste), stemmed, sliced in half and deseeded, finely diced/minced
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon paprika, smoked or sweet
  • 1 teaspoon caraway seeds, crushed
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds, crushed, or 3/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • 2 pounds (1kg) ripe tomatoes, cored and diced, or two 14-ounce cans of diced or crushed tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 teaspoons honey
  • 1 teaspoon red wine or cider vinegar
  • 1 cup (20g) loosely packed greens, such as radish greens, watercress, kale, Swiss chard, or spinach, coarsely chopped
  • 4 ounces (about 1 cup, 115g) feta cheese, cut in generous, bite-sized cubes
  • 4 to 6 eggs


1. In a wide skillet, heat the olive oil over medium high heat. Add the onions and the garlic and cook for 5 minutes, until soft and wilted. Add the chile pepper, the salt, pepper, and spices. Cook for a minute, stirring constantly, to release their fragrance.

2. Add the fresh or canned tomatoes, tomato paste, honey, and vinegar, reduce the heat to medium, and cook for 12 to 15 minutes, or until the sauce has thickened somewhat but is still loose enough so that when you shake the pan it sloshes around. (Fresh tomatoes may take a little longer to cook than canned.) Stir in the chopped greens.

3. If you want to finish the Shakshuka on the stovetop, turn off the heat and press the cubes of feta into the tomato sauce. With the back of a spoon, make 6 indentations in the sauce. Crack an egg into each indentation, then drag a spatula gently through the egg whites so it mingles a bit with the tomato sauce, being careful not to disturb the yolks.

Turn the heat back on so the sauce is at a gentle simmer, and cook for about 10 minutes, taking some of the tomato sauce and basting the egg whites from time-to-time. Cover, and cook 3 to 5 minutes, until the eggs are cooked to your liking.

4. To finish them individually, preheat the oven to 375ºF (180ºC.) Divide the sauce into 6 baking dishes and press the feta cubes into the sauce. Set the baking dishes on a baking sheet, make an indentation in each, and crack and egg into the center. Bake until the eggs are cooked to your liking, basting the whites with some of the sauce midway during baking, which will take anywhere from 10 to 15 minutes – but begin checking them sooner to get them just right. If the yolks begin to get a little firm on top before the whites are cooked, drape a sheet of foil over them, but avoid having it touch the yolks.

Serve with lots of crusty bread for scraping up the sauce.

Shakshuka

130 comments

  • This is right up my alley! I think it would be a great classroom project for my students to make. I just love your blog!

  • The pleated peppers are called Scotch Bonnet peppers. They’re used a lot in West African cuisine.

  • I made this last night and it was delicious! Unfortunately, I couldn’t find the caraway seeds but it still turned out wonderfully without them.

  • Torture! This recipe looks so terrific I will not wait to try it, but it really seems to be made for August or September, when the tomatoes are ripe and rich. Months of summer-shakshuka-dreaming ahead of us still.
    This is the recipe that will send me to the bookstore for a copy of Jerusalem for my very own.

  • Thank you for this recipe the most. I am a Kabbalah Sephardi and I truly appreciate it and a member of Chef de Cuisine as a Teaching Chef now retired. Gratitude is truthful

  • On your next trip to London, you must try Changa eggs at the Providores in Marylebone. Poached eggs with whipped yogurt and hot chilli butter – they might make you move to Istanbul!

  • I made this yesterday for Purim breakfast. My husband loved it! I have made a variation of this for years without eggs, and I really loved your version. Thanks!

  • I’d never heard of shakshuka, but your pictures looked so good that I made it last week for dinner. We loved it. My husband said over and over how good it was, and I really enjoyed the leftovers for lunch at work. I thought I had feta in the fridge, but when I realized I didn’t, I substituted white cheddar. That worked pretty well.

  • I have been making a version of Shakshuka ever since I’ve left Israel. I also use it as substitute for Spanish omelet filing.

  • Eggs&tomatosauce *yumyum*
    i know what i’ll have for diner.

    About those peppers, aren’t they Adjuma peppers?

  • I cook a kind of Shakshuka with a ratatouille bio from Picard in which I add a lot of spice and fresh chilies, it’s a good way to start a day.

  • I’ve just come from Morocco where I saw and enjoyed variations on this dish in Fes and Marrakesh. Can’t wait to try it at home. Thanks, David. You’ve made my kitchen more exciting in so many ways.

  • Thanks so much for sharing this terrific idea. Just had it for breakfast and it was amazingly delicious. My feta had bad and on suggestion of above reader, I substituted cheddar and it was great. We’ll use feta next time as sound so much better. Love reading you!

  • My son has just returned from Israel with two baggies of shakshuka spice mix from different markets. I urged him to pick some up after reading this article. They look remarkably similar.

    Can someone recommend the best (or preferred) way to use these mixes to make shakshuka?

  • I cooked this for the first time on the weekend, and used home made feta cheese and sweet yellow peppers as well as chillis. It was absolutely fabulous – thank you! And I served it to a friend, who took my printout of the recipe home with her. I’d never heard of Shakshuka, but I am awfully impressed at how beautifully tasty it is. I can see why you’d keep the sauce on hand though, it’s not a quick breakfast if you make the sauce from scratch in the morning.

  • Emma -Is there any chance you could share the feta cheese recipe? Would love to make it myself. Thanks!