Shakshuka is a dish with Northern African origins of eggs poached in a thick, rich, spicy tomato sauce. It’s a dish that I’d only learned about a week ago when it was mentioned in casual conversation with my sister, who had brought it up like it was a dish that everyone knew.
I was surprised at my own ignorance. Not just because it’s a fairly simple dish to make with ingredients that are easy to come by and are common to a lot of households, but it’s such a fabulous dish that I’m surprised that people don’t talk about it more often. Especially given the relatively recent popularity and prevalence of baked egg dishes throughout Sydney’s cafe scene. However, it would be naive to think of this dish as yet another baked egg dish as it’s far more and far better than most baked egg dishes I’ve had.
Shakshuka is a simple, hearty dish that’d make for a great breakfast or brunch, particularly during these colder winter months. Read on for the full recipe and some note and tips regarding this dish.
I’m always on the lookout for dishes that can adequately withstand freezer storage for the sake of convenience and variety. This looks to be a great example of one such dish as tomato-based sauces tend to hold up quite well in the freezer. I can easily see myself making a large batch of the sauce, portioning and bagging in zip-lock bags to be stowed away in the deep freeze, ready to be whipped up along with the eggs into a delicious and hearty breakfast at a moment’s notice.
Some thoughts and notes regarding this recipe:
- This recipe was adapted from one by David Lebovitz, following the stove top instructions as I found that to be more convenient for me. If you’d like to find out how to finish off the shakshuka by baking it in the oven, check out his recipe for baking instructions.
- The recipe below calls for the sauce to be made the night before. This is to allow the flavours and spices to “mature” for lack of a better term in the way that tomato-based sauces, stews and the like seem to always taste better the next day. However in a pinch, this dish can be made all in one sitting, though the flavours won’t be as quite as good in my opinion.
- The original recipe calls for the inclusion of cubes of fetta. These have been omitted from this recipe as I didn’t have any on me at the time and after eating it, I feel that you don’t lose much from its exclusion. However, feel free to press in several cubes of feta into the cooled sauce prior to finishing it off with the eggs.
- As for other additions, beans such as kidney or cannellini would be a great in this dish, making it something akin to fancy baked beans. Chorizo would probably be another great inclusion, frying up until its browned prior to finish the final stage of the dish with the sauce and eggs. I was also advised that labne and dukkah would work well with this dish as well, which makes sense as labne would serve well as an alternative to the feta and the spices in dukkah are similar or complementary to those used in the sauce.
- The recipe below calls for paprika but doesn’t specify whether to use sweet, hot or smoked. The reason for this is that any of these spices would work fine with the dish and it’d depend on what you had available or what your preferences are. Use the one you prefer the most or experiment and see which one works best for you.
- While on spices, to add a little spicy kick to the dish, feel free to add a little chili powder or fresh chili to the sauce as you see fit. Alternately, a dash of Tobasco or some other hot sauce at the table would go down a treat, particularly as they work well with both tomatoes and eggs.
The complete recipe follows below. I hope you enjoy this dish as much as I did.
Shakshuka (Serves 4-6) – adapted from David Lebovitz’ recipe
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil (or regular olive oil)
1 medium onion, diced
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tsp ground black pepper
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp coriander seeds, ground
1 tsp cumin, ground
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp turmeric, ground
2 440g tins of tomatoes
2 tbsp tomato paste
2 tsp honey
2 bay leaves
3/4 cup roasted capsicum, chopped
Additional salt to taste
Sauce (prepare the night before)
- Saute the onions a large saucepan with the olive oil over low-medium heat until translucent.
- Add minced garlic and ground spices and saute for another minute or so until they become aromatic.
- Add the tomato paste and fry until it thickens and colours slightly.
- Stir in tinned tomatoes, honey and bay leaves. If tinned tomatoes are whole, then break then up into smaller chunks in the saucepan prior to adding the honey and bay leaves.
- Turn the heat up to medium-high until sauce starts to boil and then lower to a simmer.
- Stir through roasted capsicum and simmer until sauce thickens (around 15 mins)
- Finish with additional seasoning to taste if required then turn off the heat and allow to cool, preferably overnight though make sure to refrigerate it before doing so.
- Off the heat, add all the cooled sauce into a wide, shallow skillet or frying pan. The wider the better as it allows for more room for eggs to be cooked.
- With the back of a large tablespoon, make an indentation for each egg into the sauce, allowing for enough room so the eggs won’t spill over into each other.
- Turn the heat on to medium-high and bring the sauce to the boil
- As soon as the sauce reaches a boil, turn down the heat to a simmer, cover the frying pan with a lid (or cling wrap/foil if you don’t have one) to retain heat and help cook the eggs more evenly.
- Cook for around 5-10 mins, depending on whether you prefer your yolks runny or hard. Make sure to keep an eye on the eggs and check in on them every minute or so to see if they’re done so they don’t overcook.
- Serve an egg with a generous amount of sauce with a couple of slices of toasted sour dough bread. Finish with a drizzle of some good extra virgin olive oil.