Gently poached eggs on a spicy flavourful and rich tomato-red bell pepper sauce tempered with middle eastern spices eaten with toasty bread is one of the best dishes you can ever have. The furiously smoky red hot spicy sauce, the tender eggs and the aromatic herbs, the subtle taste of cheese (feta preferably but Parmesan tastes good too)
It is versatile and full of nutrition. Add your choice of veggies or meat to it to make it more delicious. I would recommend ham or bacon, eggplant, baked potatoes or sweet corn but the simple Shakshuka actually does not need any of it.
Essentially a breakfast dish you can have shakshuka any time of the day. You can prepare the sauce ahead and use it later too. You can bake it or just make in an open skillet as per your liking. Originally a North African (Tunishian) dish, Shakshula is widely eaten all over Israel, Algeria, Morrocco, and other places. Though there are many variations, it tastes good whichever way you make it. The origins are debatable but the dish is undoubtedly out of the world.
If you have a Challah bread then the classic Shakshula is THE thing to eat with it. Use the bread to mop up all the juices from the sauce. Shakshuka is also called “Eggs from hell” and now you must have guess why we love it so much 😀
A large Iron skillet is the best to make and serve Shakshuka but you can use a cast iron one or a sauce pan too.
To make Shakshuka you will need :
Olive Oil – 3 tablespoons
Onion – 1 large thinly sliced or chopped
Garlic – 3 cloves minced or finely chopped
Tomatoes – 8 large finely chopped ripe plum tomatoes or 1 can of whole plum tomatoes with juice
Tomato Paste – 4 tablespoon
Sweet bell peppers – Red and Yellow (I each – seeded / chopped finely or sliced thin)
Salt – to taste (you can use kosher salt)
Ground cumin – 1 teaspoon
Black peppercorn – freshly ground (to taste)
3-4 Eggs ( Or as many as can fit nicely in the skillet)
Cilantro/ coriander – chopped fine (for garnish)
Sweet paprika- 1/2 teaspoon
Jalapeno / cayenne pepper or green chili (optional & according to taste)
Fresh sweet corn (boiled) – 4 tablespoon
Sugar- 1 teaspoon
Fresh Basil/parsley (optional) – 1 teaspoon
Feta/Parmesan or any other cheese you like
Bay leaf – 1 ( I like the taste with tomatoes)
You can add sausages, ham, bacon if you wish. Vegetarians can add eggplant, corn etc.
Take a large wide iron skillet or any other saucepan. Keep that apron on as the sauce has a tendency to sputter. It can be messy as hell 😀
In a iron skillet, heat the olive oil on medium heat. Add onion and saute till translucent.
Add bell peppers and jalapenos (if using). Cook them on low-medium heat till they are tender.
Add garlic and tomatoes. Be careful and gentle while pouring the canned tomatoes.
Stir in sugar and other spices. Add salt and pepper to taste.
If using sausages, bacon etc, add it now and stir.
Add basil/parsley if using.
Keep the suace on low heat and let it simmer for 20 minutes. Slow cooking helps the flavours to come out well. The sauce should be flavourful and have thick stew like consistency, the vegetables should be soft and sweet. You can add a little water , tomato paste , white wine or broth to acquire the right consistency. Taste it after the tomatoes have cooked and adjust whatever more is required.
Once the sauce is nicely done, press the feta cubes into the sauce or add grated parmesan and stir.
You can freeze this sauce for later use too but if you want to use it now and wish to finish the Shakshula on the stovetop then, make 3-4 indention in the sauce and gently crack one egg in each. Keep the heat low or the eggs would scramble.
There are various ways to eat the eggs in shakshuka. I like the runny yolk but you can scramble them in too. Sprinkle a bit of freshly ground pepper and salt on each egg. Spread the egg white gently over the sauce so that it mingles with it but be careful not to break the yolk.Baste the egg whites with some sauce. Cover the skillet and let it set. Cook till the whites are no longer translucent and the eggs are done to your liking. Garnish with fresh chopped cilantro /coriander and sweet corn. Serve with hunks of bread. Usually sakshuka is served in the skillet itself.
You can sprinkle the cheese on top of of the dish and bake it in oven too. For this preheat the oven to 180 degrees and bake for 10-20 min till the eggs are done.
Enjoy this wholesome dish any time of the day. By the way, it is a perfect paleo dish too.