Egg

3 Different Takes on Shakshuka (All Are Winners!)

April  6, 2017

North African in origin, hugely popular in Israel, and staining tablecloths and t-shirts all over the Middle East and world at large, shakshuka is exactly the one-pan, bear hug of a dish that we want to eat for breakfast every morning—and then again for dinner every night.

And if you're willing to take creative liberties, it's also one of the most flexible meals around. As Michael Solomonov, chef at Zahav and author of the cookbook by the same name, put it: "Traditionally, you have eggs simmered in a base of stewed tomatoes and peppers, which grow year-round in Israel, but from there you can do whatever you want."

Did he say... "whatever we want"? (Cue maniacal laughter.)

We're just about to tell you how to make these! Photo by James Ransom

Because while shakshukas share two essential components—1) a spicy and/or acidic sauce that balances out the richness of 2) the eggs that are poached in it—they take different routes to get there.

Join The Conversation

Top Comment:
“My tomato-based shakshukas started with Ottolenghi's recipe, but I substitute Turkish hot red pepper paste (aci biber salcasi) for the harissa. Cumin is obligatory, but I often use a berbere spice as well. Canned tomatoes actually work very well, especially if they are San Marzanos. Love these egg dishes!”
— mary B.
Comment

Consider the spiciness, for example: Ottolenghi's shakshuka gets its heat from harissa, while Saveur's relies on fresh jalapeños or Anaheims. And Chitra Agrawal, author of Vibrant India, takes advantage of the sweet-sour kick of tomato achaar instead.

Recipes may call for canned tomatoes, or fresh tomatoes, or diced tomatoes, or tomato purée, or no tomatoes at all. Some season with ground cumin; others with cumin seed. Some add smoked or sweet paprika, or ground coriander, or dried lime, or Aleppo pepper, or curry powder, or sugar, or garlic, or lemon. Some cook it in skillets, or casseroles, or individual ramekins. Shakshuka can go in the oven or on the stove. ("In a pinch, a space heater will do," says Solomonov.) Some finish with cheese, or herbs, or black olives, or labneh.

To demonstrate the power of this possibility, we've outlined three different (but all delicious!) versions from restaurants we love: Zahav, Sofra, and Sqirl.

Graphics by Tim McSweeney Photo by James Ransom

Zahav's

The reddest, peppery-est, and chunkiest of the group.

  • Supporting role vegetables: onions, bell peppers, garlic
  • Seasonings: optional dried lime, sweet paprika, ground cumin, ground coriander, sugar
  • Tomato?: purée
  • Ooh-ahhs and doodads: torn cilantro and sliced serranos, for garnish
  • Cooking technique: Once you've cracked in the eggs, cover the pan and cook, over low heat, until the whites are set (5 minutes or so).

Sofra's

The smooth and sweet curried tomato sauce gets fired up with the real star: zhoug!

  • Supporting role vegetables: garlic
  • Seasonings: Maras pepper, the Yemeni spice mix hawayej or curry powder, lemon juice
  • Tomato?: diced (from a can)
  • Ooh-ahhs and doodads: zhoug, a herby hot sauce from Yemen made of jalapeños, cilantro, parsley, garlic, coriander, and cumin
  • Cooking technique: Blend the tomato sauce 'til smooth, then pour into individual ramekins; crack an egg into each, bake at 350° F for 20 minutes, then scoop them out, and serve with/drown in zhoug

Sqirl's

Nary a tomato in sight, this one is hunter green, from a sauce made of blanched chard leaves that are blended with herbs, spices, olive oil, and ice cubes.

  • Supporting Starring role vegetables: chard, onions
  • Seasonings: toasted caraway seeds, cumin, cilantro, serrano chile
  • Tomato?: You won't find one here.
  • Ooh-ahhs and doodads: dill and harissa powder or Aleppo pepper, for garnish
  • Cooking technique: Separate the chard leaves and stems; chop up the stems, sauté them with the chopped onion, then add the leaves, which you've blanched and puréed; crack in the eggs and bake at 325° F for 20 to 25 minutes
This could be your dinner tonight (really!). Photo by James Ransom

To create your own shakshuka, follow these loosey-goosey guidelines:

1. Sauté and spice: Any vegetables that you want silky and soft should get a head start before you add the sauce. Cook any member of the onion family, garlic, peppers, chard stems and other vegetables with a bite in olive oil, butter, or a mix. Now's also the time to add spices and seasonings: cumin, coriander, paprika, curry powder, cayenne, harissa, garam masala, dried oregano, tomato paste. (You could also sear crumbles of sausage, like Moroccan merguez, at this stage!)

2. Simmer the sauce: If you'd like a traditional dish, add tomatoes in your favorite form (canned—whole, diced, or puréed—or fresh) and make the sauce that tastes best to you (maybe that would welcome a splash of coconut milk or heavy cream). Or take a shortcut: Kendra Vaculin's shortcut method starts with marinara (use your favorite jar!); similarly, Ina Garten's vodka sauce would make an outrageous base.

Alternatively, go green! You could follow Sqirl's lead, or go out on your own—perhaps your future holds zucchini butter or tomatillo shakshuka? Simmer until the sauce is concentrated in flavor and thick enough to support those eggs.

3. Add any delicate greens now! Because you don't want that spinach to get slimy.

The most important part. Photo by James Ransom

4. Crack in the eggs (and cook 'em): Make divots, crack the eggs into each one, and cook until set. You can achieve this in the oven (325° to 350° F for 20 to 25 minutes) or on the stove.

Some recipes suggest you cover the pan to help the whites set evenly and quickly, while others say that risks steaming the yolks and instead recommend simmering the shakshuka uncovered for a longer period of time. Ottolenghi gives this tip: "Use a fork to swirl the egg whites a little bit with the sauce, taking care not to break the yolks." And J. Kenji López-Alt suggests basting the egg whites with the sauce to help them cook faster.

5. Garnish: Cheese crumbles, chopped olives, herbs, a drizzle of oil or brown butter, plops of yogurt, chile oil, a squeeze of lemon.

We hope you're feeling excited (not overwhelmed!).


More sauce, more eggs, more downright satisfaction:

What's your favorite way to make shakshuka? Tell us in the comments below!

18 Comments

Boris J. November 21, 2017
This is one of those posts to be printed and kept in a recipe book.
 
Annie O. October 2, 2017
You should try the Turkish version...no eggs but there is eggplant! Delish.
 
mela March 8, 2018
Agreed. It's glorious.
 
healthierkitchen April 27, 2017
One of my favorite dishes, and one I've never written down a recipe for. Great piece, great graphics! In NY, you used to be able to get Michael Solomonov's (off the menu) at Dizengoff in Chelsea market only in the morning. Not sure if they're still doing that.
 
Basim Z. April 26, 2017
Palestinian version. Fresh tomatoes sautéed with lots of garlic in olive oil until creamy. Add a whole jalapeño or Serrano. Season with salt, pepper, coriander and cumin to taste. Crack whole eggs on top or: second version, crack eggs and scramble into tomatoe until smooth. <br /><br />
 
Carla F. August 25, 2017
I don't really like eggs at all, so I'm planning to do this with tofu instead of eggs. I might either just use raw tofu and let it soak up the sauce, or slice it, put tamari and nutritional yeast on it, saute it til crisp(ish), then throw it on the tomato. Either way, I think it will be pretty yummy.<br /><br /><br />
 
Rebecca D. April 26, 2017
I want so badly to make/eat shakshuka. . but I don't like whole eggs (won't eat 'em, don't ask). Does anyone have a suggestion that involves a way to eat this delicious dish and scramble the eggs??
 
Author Comment
Sarah J. April 26, 2017
I might suggest menemen—Turkish-style scrambled eggs! https://food52.com/recipes/61974-menemen-turkish-scrambled-eggs-with-tomatoes-and-peppers
 
Nancy C. April 27, 2017
Pour the sauce in the scrambled eggs. And, voila.<br />
 
Nancy C. April 27, 2017
I meant ON the eggs...<br /><br />
 
X June 18, 2017
Scramble the eggs separately, put mounds of them in holes you make in the sauce, like you would if you were using raw eggs, and spoon the sauce over the top. I've done that with whole hard boiled eggs and it works out fine.<br /><br /> You could also beat the eggs, then cook them without scrambling so that you get a solid piece (kind of like a flat omelette). Then just cut in squares (or circles) before adding to the sauce in the same way you'd add raw eggs. I'd use a smallish pan so the cooked egg comes out on the thicker side.<br /><br />OR, you could just do what Nancy Caravan said!
 
mary B. April 26, 2017
Aha! I have been doing chard shakshukas for years. My tomato-based shakshukas started with Ottolenghi's recipe, but I substitute Turkish hot red pepper paste (aci biber salcasi) for the harissa. Cumin is obligatory, but I often use a berbere spice as well. Canned tomatoes actually work very well, especially if they are San Marzanos. Love these egg dishes!
 
Joan F. April 9, 2017
The absolute best variation on Shakshuka is Mexican Eggs in Purgatory by Grace Parisi (just google). Tomatillos, cilantro, cotija cheese, garlic... I never cease to get raves.
 
Guadalupe L. April 27, 2017
With a fancy name, or without it, all Latinos have had a similar concoction for ages. I love it with lots of previously roasted and minced Jalapeño chiles and garlic.
 
Elsa K. April 9, 2017
Where do the ice cubes fit into the Sqirl recipe???
 
Author Comment
Sarah J. April 9, 2017
They get blended with the blanched Swiss chard leaves. Full recipe here: http://www.bonappetit.com/recipe/green-shakshuka
 
Debbie April 9, 2017
Now I'm ready for all those plants in my garden to start putting off their fruits! I've got the dill and cilantro ready to use but the tomatoes and peppers and spinach I want to use are a while off. I guess the canned tomatoes will have to do for now.
 
PHIL April 6, 2017
My Mom would poach the eggs on top of the Sunday Gravy and serve it over macaroni or with some nice crusty Italian bread.