Shakshuka is, in a broad interpretation, popular throughout much of north Africa. It’s commonly thought to have originated in Libya or Tunisia, though various accounts exist with some claiming its origin is Yemenite or even Ottoman. Whatever the origin, Israelis and the Jewish diaspora can probably take much of the credit for the dish’s trendy turn throughout much of the west in the last decade or so.
With a simple dish such as shakshuka, the possibilities are endless. I prefer mine simple. The key is, like virtually all cooked tomato based sauces, to leave the tomatoes to cook for long enough for the flavour to really develop. Of course, if you like, throw in some of your favourite spices, cheese or even sausage. I usually make the sauce the night before. That way, all I need to do in the morning is to reheat the sauce, crack in the eggs and enjoy… Serves 3-6, depending on what else is on offer.
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 1 onion, peeled, halved and sliced
- 2 romano peppers or 1 red bell pepper, decored, deseeded and sliced in long strips
- 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 1/2 chili, finely chopped (optional)
- 2×400 g good quality tinned chopped tomates or 800 g fresh tomates in season, peeled and roughly chopped
- 6 fresh eggs
- fresh parsley and pul biber or chili flakes, to garnish
- salt and pepper
- Heat the olive oil in a large heavy based pan with high sides on medium heat. Add onion and peppers and simmer while stirring regularly until the vegetables are softened but not coloured, 10-15 minutes.
- Add garlic and chili (if using) and stir constantly for one minute.
- Add tomatoes, season with salt and pepper, stir well and put on a lid. If using fresh tomates, you may add 1-2 tsp tomato puree to get a deeper tomato flavour. Reduce heat to low and simmer for at least 15 minuter, preferably half an hour or longer. Check for seasoning again.
- Make six dents in the shakshukah and break the eggs in. Put the lid back on and continue to simmer on low/medium heat until the eggs are as you like them; I prefer the yolk to be very runny and the white just cooked. Garnish with fresh parsley and pul biber or chili flakes and serve immediately.