It means mixture in Arabic, and it really is: a delicious amalgamation of sweet, caramelized tomatoes, bell peppers and onion, scented with fresh spicy chili pepper, and cumin and coriander. This silky, saucy ratatouille is then used as a vibrant, crunchy pedestal for eggs that are cracked and poached in it, resulting in a handsome red-and-white dish.
Shakshouka is a street food eaten for breakfast or dinner throughout the Middle East and North Africa. There are many variations on the recipe; for example, you may add diced boiled potatoes or merguez. I slightly tweaked a version by Orly Olivier, whom I profiled back in January.
You don’t have to cook it in a cast-iron skillet—any large, round, heavy pot will do—but if you do, note that it gets very hot very quickly, so reduce the heat accordingly. I’m calling for four to six eggs in the recipe, depending on how many people you’re cooking for. There is definitely room for six.
Shakshouka tastes great with a nice crusty bread or toasted pita. Serve it right away so that the yolks stay runny.
- Serves 4–6
- 6 tomatoes
- 2 red bell peppers
- 2 green bell peppers
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 onion, peeled, halved, cut in half-moons
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 4 cloves garlic, peeled, thinly sliced
- 1 chili (jalapeño, serrano, or habanero)
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 1 teaspoon coriander
- 1 tablespoon maple syrup
- Black pepper, freshly ground
- 4–6 eggs
- 1 tablespoon cilantro, chopped
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
- With a knife, cut 1/8-inch-deep slits in the tomato tops in a cross pattern. Slice off the tops of the bell peppers, scoop out the seeds with your hand, cut the peppers in half, and remove the white membranes. Place the tomatoes and peppers on the baking sheet, spacing them about 1 inch apart, and bake in the oven until soft, about 45 minutes. Flip the peppers halfway through.
- Remove the vegetables from the oven, transfer to a big bowl, and cover tightly with a lid or plastic food wrap. Let steam for 15 minutes.
- Peel the peppers, and slice them vertically into thin strips. Over a small bowl to catch the juice, peel the tomatoes with a paring knife, cut out the tough core, and roughly chop. Set aside.
- Heat the oil over medium-high heat in a large skillet. Add the onion and salt and sauté, stirring frequently until soft, about 5 minutes. Destem the chili pepper, remove the seeds—or keep some (or all), depending on how spicy you prefer—and chop finely. Stir in the chili and garlic, and cook for 1 minute.
- Add the tomatoes with their juice, bell peppers, cumin, coriander, maple syrup and a black pepper to taste. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Lower the heat to low, cover with a lid, and simmer for 15 minutes.
- With a spoon or spatula, create little nests in the mixture, about 2 inches apart. Carefully crack an egg into each nest. Cover the skillet and cook over low heat, until the egg whites are set and the egg yolks still runny, about 1–2 minutes. Sprinkle the cilantro over the shakshouka and serve.