We first came across Shakshuka back in 2012 when it was prepared for us by visiting artist Devra Fox. It was one of the days in-between our summer program sessions and the moment we tried it, we knew it just had to become one of our regular mealtime offerings. Shakshuka is an Israeli dish that in subsequent years has become more well known. Most notably, there is an excellent recipe in Yotam Ottolenghi’s incredible book Jerusalem. As we’ve mentioned in previous posts, this particular book is one we come back to over and over again. Our recipe differs slightly from the one in the book and from what we can tell, there are several variations.
In its simplest form, Shakshuka is characterised by eggs poached in a savoury tomato sauce. Ours has a bit of harissa, which gives it a kick but if you prefer a more mild flavour, you can substitute with paprika. Its sweetness comes from the slowly cooked red bell peppers and onions, forming an incredible sofrito base for everything that comes after. It’s best to let the sauce cook slowly over the course of the entire meal prep. The eggs themselves don’t take long and really should be cooked once everyone is sitting at the table ready to eat. Ideally, the yolks have a jammy or even runny centre, adding a richness and textural difference.
We find it’s best to serve this dish with some sort of starch that can soak up all the delicious sauce and egg yolk. There are many possible pairings, but we find some fresh sourdough bread, Israeli couscous or quinoa works best. Top each serving with a dollop of whole milk Greek yoghurt to balance out the spice and cool everything off a bit. As an accompaniment, you can serve a side salad but this dish really stands on its own. This recipe serves four to six people but can easily be doubled. We regularly serve our residency artists and gap year students this meal but it would be a challenge for larger groups. Usually, we serve this one for lunch but it would work equally well for breakfast or dinner. Enjoy!
- 3 tbsp Olive oil
- 1 large yellow onion, finely diced
- 2 large red bell peppers, finely diced
- 1 heaped tsp harissa powder
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 1 tsp ground coriander
- 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 400g can tomatoes
- 8 fresh eggs
- salt to taste
- whole milk Greek yoghurt
Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan over medium-low heat then add the onions and peppers with a pinch of salt. Stir frequently and cook slowly until the peppers and onions have completely broken down. This should take about 15 to 20 minutes. Add the harissa powder, garlic, coriander and cumin and incorporate well stirring continuously for one minute. Add the can of tomatoes then pour about 100ml of water in the can swirling to remove all the remaining tomato and add this to the sauce as well. At this stage, you can season with another pinch of salt but hold back a bit as the sauce will reduce and become saltier as it cooks.
When the sauce has achieved a thick consistency which should take another 20 to 30 minutes, taste for seasoning and add a bit more salt if needed. Using the back of a wooden spoon, create 8 indentations in the sauce around the pan. The eggs will be cupped by these depressions and make it a bit easier for serving. Crack the eggs into the depressions, cover and cook on medium heat for about three minutes or until the egg whites just set. Remove the lid and serve immediately.
You can plate this up for larger groups but it looks best to present the pan at the table with accompanying side dishes.