Tomato and Chickpea Shakshuka

I usually keep a few canned things on hand. Sardines, tuna, and tomatoes, are constants you’ll find in my cupboards. I also have oddities that I’m not sure what I’ll use them for, but keep them around anyways, like smoked sugar, butterscotch chips, coffee-flavored salt, Vietnamese coconut syrup, and a kit someone gave me for making queso blanco which does, indeed, work.

I’ve discovered the joy and deliciousness of fresh dried chickpeas, which sounds like an oxymoron. But most dried chickpeas are old and not as delicious as when you buy dried chickpeas from a local source, which are fresher and better-tasting. However canned chickpeas will certainly do in a pinch, or if you’re in a hurry, and I have a few tins in my larder for “just in case” moments, like this one, when I wanted to make a hearty version of Shakshuka.

Shakshuka is a dish that has origins in several places, and it’s become popular around the world. And why not? It’s easy to make and most of the ingredients are readily available anywhere, even if you’re in lockdown. It makes good use of canned ingredients, except for the eggs, of course.

I was able to get just about everything that I usually use in Shakshuka except fresh chile peppers (I had some fresh jalapeños, but used them in the mint zhoug I served with this), so used dried red pepper flakes and a dollop of harissa to give the tomato-chickpea sauce some zing. You can improvise and if you have a fresh chile or two, feel free to dice ’em up and saute them with the onions. Of course, all chiles are different so adjust to your taste.

One common refrain I hear from people that want to make Shakshuka is that their spouse/partner/kids like their eggs fully cooked. The good thing is that you can cook some eggs less, for those of us that like runny yolks, and others more firmly, for those that like them well-done. Just spoon the eggs out when they’re to your liking. It’s hard to give precise instructions and times for cooking the eggs (has anyone ever timed how long it takes to make a sunny side up or over-easy egg perfectly?) but the beauty of Shakshuka is that it’s a pretty relaxed meal; the only hovering you need to do is at the end, to get the eggs right. (Menemen is a similar dish where the eggs are scrambled.)

I like mine partially runny, so I can scoop up the eggs with some of the spicy, tomato-chickpea sauce, which is cooked almost to a jam-like consistency. Pita or similar bread works well, although we were fortunate to get a fresh baguette from the local bakery so kept it local and used that. You could add a handful of greens to the sauce, or some feta when you add the eggs.

Tomato and Chickpea Shakshuka
Print Recipe
4-6 servings
We didn't have any chile peppers during the lockdown. (Well, I did for a brief moment...but I used them to make the Mint Zhoug.) So I used red chili flakes, also known as crushed red pepper. I did add a few dabs of harissa to give the dish additional spice. You can certainly add a diced fresh chili or two to the onion and garlic mixture and skip the dried chili flakes. Feel free to stir a generous handful of torn greens, such as kale or spinach, into the tomato sauce and let it wilt a minute, covered, before cooking the eggs. Cubes of feta can be added around the eggs while they are cooking, too. Everyone likes their eggs cooked differently so rather than relying strictly on cooking times, keep an eye on them and the Shakshuka is ready when the eggs are cooked to your liking. Note they will appear less-cooked than they are, visually, but a slight nudge will let you know if they are cooked to your liking.
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, peeled and diced
3 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher or sea salt
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon paprika (preferably smoked)
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
Two 15-ounce (400g) cans crushed or diced tomatoes
1 1/2 tablespoons tomato paste
2-3 teaspoons harissa (optional)
2 teaspoons brown sugar or honey
1 3/4 cups (280g) cooked chickpeas; from one 15-ounce/400g can of chickpeas drained and rinsed, or chickpeas you've cooked from dried
5-6 eggs
1. Heat the oil in a wide skillet (at least 10-inches/25cm) that has a lid, over medium heat. Add the onions and garlic and cook, stirring frequently, until they're soft and translucent, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the salt and cumin, paprika, black pepper, and red pepper flakes, and stir for 10 seconds to release their fragrance.
2. Add the tomatoes and any juice they're packed in, tomato paste, harissa, and brown sugar to the pan and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the drained chickpeas and continue cooking about 10 minutes more, until when you lift a big spoonful of the sauce, and drop it back onto the sauce, and holds its shape. Then it's ready.
3. Use a spoon to make 5 or 6 indentations in the sauce around the pan. Crack an egg into each of the divots and use spoon to gently drag some of the egg whites into the sauce. Cover the pan and cook the eggs until they are to your liking; if you like them really soft, they may be done in 3 to 4 minutes. For firmer eggs, they'll take around 6 to 8 minutes. But rather than relying on fixed times, best to check them for doneness, as mentioned in the headnote before the recipe.

Serving: Serve the Shakshuka with Mint Zhoug, if desired. If you don't have an herb sauce, you can strew a little chopped parsley over the top, to brighten things up. Crusty bread or flatbread is a good accompaniment to scoop up the flavorful sauce.

Storage: You can make the sauce up to through step 2 and refrigerate it, then finish the Shakshuka later. The sauce will keep for a few days in the refrigerator. And yes, you can freeze it too. If you just want to make two servings of Shakshuka, just cook two eggs in the sauce. When it's done, spoon out the two portions (and enjoy them!) then store the rest of the sauce in the refrigerator for the next batch. It likely will have thickened a bit more than you want, so thin it with some water before cooking with it a second time.


Tomato and Chickpea Shakshuka

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25 comments

  • Sharon Wichmann
    May 15, 2020 12:52pm

    We seem to be eating more eggs than usual during this time and there’s always chickpeas – dried and canned – in our pantry. The mr. loves him some hot, so I think I have dinner…. Reply

    • May 15, 2020 1:22pm
      David Lebovitz

      I was saving all my cardboard egg cartons in one place and one day Romain held them up and asked, “Did we eat all these?” I think there was literally 6-7 dozen eggs represented there. So yes…we did. (Eggs are high in iodine and this article talks about how low iodine levels can lead to fatigue. So perhaps we are all eating our fill, to stay happy?) Reply

  • May 15, 2020 12:55pm

    Feeling hungry just looking at that last photo. I love shakshuka, and fortunately my partner and I both like our yolks runny, so no worries about scooping some eggs out early! Reply

    • May 15, 2020 1:19pm
      David Lebovitz

      A number of people have told me they wanted to make Shakshuka but someone in their household doesn’t like runny eggs. So it’s a-ok (and possible) to cook the eggs to everyone’s liking. The great thing about Shakshuka also is that even if you think the eggs are underdone, you can stir them with a little bit of the hot tomato/chickpea sauce on the plate which’ll cook ’em a little further ;) Reply

  • Bette
    May 15, 2020 2:35pm

    Yum. That looks so delicious, thanks. Making this evening! Reply

  • Sandra, Wpg.
    May 15, 2020 3:05pm

    I’d like to try your version with the chickpeas – looks good! I like a runny egg yolk but a firmer white so I poach my eggs separately for a couple of minutes or so first, then add them to the Shakshuka for the last minute or so. Reply

  • May 15, 2020 3:09pm

    Oh this looks wonderful! What if I only have dried chickpeas? Reply

    • May 15, 2020 3:13pm
      David Lebovitz

      You can cook them and use them. I’ve given the amount of cooked chickpeas in the list of ingredients so use that amount. Chickpeas tend to double in size from dried, to being cooked. Reply

  • Sam Gardiner
    May 15, 2020 3:25pm

    David I’m definitely making this for supper tomorrow night – you probably know this – but you can freeze whole fresh chillies and chop them straight from the freezer – I honestly didn’t think this would work but it absolutely does
    Sam Reply

  • Clary
    May 15, 2020 4:14pm

    I remember being at Dr. Shakshouka in Jaffo-Tel Aviv and asking him shakshouka with no green or red chili pepper, please, he made it with yet another kind of pepper called gamba. Well.
    Butterscotch chips put into white chocolate brownies, together with walnuts are sinful! Also my trademark brownies. Try them, you won’t regret it. Reply

  • Jennie
    May 15, 2020 4:26pm

    We love shakshuka at my house, but I’ve never added chickpeas before. I will have to try this. My husband hates the runny eggs, so I just fry up an egg on the side for him and put it on top of the tomato mixture at the end. Reply

  • Karen
    May 15, 2020 5:55pm

    I happened upon this blog while making shakshuka from your original recipe posted in 2013. Ours is a family that has visited the Middle East often – for a generation at least. And never have we had shakshuka in any restaurant, in the U.S. or elsewhere, that is as tasty as that original recipe. In particular, the spice combination, which includes caraway seed and turmeric, is second to none. The addition of a small amount of vinegar makes those flavors pop; and garnishing with feta and coriander leaves – well, it’s perfection. Thanks for posting yet another version appropriate to this time of quarantine and limited ingredient options when we all are having to “make do.“ Reply

    • Rachael
      May 16, 2020 3:11am

      Agree! David’s original shakshuka post was my introduction to the dish, and I have lost count of how many times I have made it since then. The caraway is a spectacular touch! Reply

  • Susan R. Kelley
    May 15, 2020 6:53pm

    I am writing a book about Libya and in the chapter on ancient food Shakshuka is primary. Interesting how we are just discovering ancient foods. Reply

  • Hillary
    May 15, 2020 7:33pm

    I make your other shakshuka recipe all the time, so I’m glad you shared this after I saw you making it in your Instagram story the other day! One question – in your other shakshuka you include red wine vinegar, I assume to balance the honey. Is there a reason it doesn’t appear in this recipe? Thanks! Reply

    • May 16, 2020 9:11am
      David Lebovitz

      It’s just a different recipe. I could have used the same template here, but you can certain add some of the seasonings that I used in that recipe (like the caraway, and the vinegar) in this one. Reply

    • S
      May 19, 2020 9:36pm

      My husband is Egyptian and last year during a visit to a remote village in the south we were served a Nubian version of shakshuka that is scrambled with less sauce than standard, but spicy and very flavorful. It is fantastic! I highly recommend trying it, David. We have been making it regularly since we got home and it’s faster and tastier than the typical version. Reply

  • Jan
    May 15, 2020 9:19pm

    My dad was the breakfast cook all of my life, though of course I wasn’t “home” for all of his wonderful breakfasts. When he and my mother married, he was a livestock buyer for a meat packing plant, which meant early starts to his day. He wanted Mom to get up, too, so he felt that the least he could do was cook b’fast. Sweet man; he cooked it when he lived with me the last 4 of his 95 years. But I digress! He ate his eggs shockingly runny while I like them well done. So, for this kind of dish, he simply would have started my egg before his and then they were done at the same time. Reply

    • Gina B.
      May 15, 2020 9:29pm

      That was a super sweet story!❤️
      Reminds me of being the only other family member up and having breakfast (including coffee, black!) w my dad when I was 5 or so…

      Love this recipe definitely trying it here on the ranch! Reply

      • Jan
        May 18, 2020 8:32pm

        Awww…As A kid and I treasured my alone time with my dad too. Coffee black at 5??? Must have had sugar in it. Reply

  • khensani
    May 16, 2020 4:02pm

    fantastic recipe! Reply

  • Mike Q
    May 17, 2020 3:42pm

    A scrumptious recipe, I made it last evening. Thanx much. Perhaps a post on a sardine meal (recipe included :))
    Take care Reply

  • RobinAldan
    May 17, 2020 4:26pm

    It looks like your Twitter account was just hacked. Reply

  • ap
    May 17, 2020 8:57pm

    I love shakshuka and this looks like a tasty variant. I mix the seasonings and add ins all the time so that it can barely be called shakshuka – sometimes it has diced zucchini in it, sometimes it’s Mexican or Italian herb/spice combinations…I’ll throw in a tablespoon or two of ajvar or harissa or tomato paste or leftover salsa if I’m using only fresh tomatoes…

    But what I really want to know is: tell me more about this Vietnamese coconut syrup! What brand, how do you use? Reply

  • mysterywalnut
    May 20, 2020 1:29pm

    Any tips for getting the perfect runny yolk? I always end up with essentially a hard-boiled yolk on the bottom with a bit of runny yolk on top, if I stop cooking sooner then the whites aren’t done… I keep the pan lid on and I’ve tried it on low, medium, and high heat and can’t get it right! Reply

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