I’ve wanted to cook Shakshuka for quite a while now, mostly so that I could say “ Your Shakshuka is ready”. The dish may be the ultimate breakfast for dinner. In Israel it is breakfast food. And what a start to the day. A bright, spicy tomato-y dish topped with eggs baked in the oven. Its tomato and red pepper sauce is enhanced with cumin, paprika and a dash of cayenne.
We used it both for dinner and breakfasted on the leftovers. We sopped up the sauce with pitas at dinner, at breakfast with English muffins. It’s terribly easy to make given that the whole dish is made in one skillet. First, the sauce is put together on the top of the stove. Then squares of feta are added and eggs are nestled into the sauce. Into the oven it goes. Ten or so minutes later, sprinkled with scallions, it comes to the table. The recipe I used offered a choice of using ground beef or ground lamb. I went with the lamb because does anyone really need more ground beef in their lives? There are almost as many recipes for Shakshuka as there are stories of where it came from.
Although Israel has embraced the dish, Shakshouka is an Arabic word. Specifically, a Tunisian Arabic word for ‘mixture’. Tomato-based Stews like shakshouka were common throughout Yemen, the Ottoman Empire, in Egypt, Syria and all the way to the Balkans. The Ottoman dish is closest to this recipe because it used minced meat. Regardless of its origins, Shakshuka is a quintessentially Arab meal found in every Arabic speaking country. Israel’s Shakshuka was brought to that country by Tunisian Jews following their mass exodus from their Arabic homeland. Its pleasures have even found their way across the Mediterranean to Naples. Called Uova in Purgatorio “Eggs in Purgatory”, it was so named because the eggs play the role of souls trying to escape Purgatory. The sauce represents its flames. Here is the recipe:
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- 1 pound ground lamb
- 1 onion
- 2 red finger chili peppers or 1 large jalapeno pepper
- 4 large cloves garlic
- 1 teaspoon cumin seed
- 1 teaspoon caraway seed
- 1 teaspoon pimenton or paprika
- Freshly grated nutmeg, about 1/8 teaspoon
- Salt and pepper
- 2 tablespoons chipotle in adobo, minced
- 14 ounces crushed or diced fire-roasted tomatoes
- 14 ounces tomato sauce
- A drizzle of honey, optional
- 4 oz brick feta in water cut into ½ inch squares
- 4 to 6 large eggs
- To Serve:
- Garlic naan bread
- 2 tablespoons butter, melted
- Greek yogurt, optional
- 2 to 3 scallions, finely chopped
- Step 1 Preheat oven to 375 F.
- Step 2 Gather your ingredients.
- Step 3 Heat a large cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat. Add olive oil to the pan, enough to cover the bottom. Add ground meat, crumble and cook until the pink color goes away and meat is lightly browned.
- Step 4 Peel and chop onion, seed and finely chop the peppers and chop or slice the garlic. Add onions and peppers to the meat and stir to soften a few minutes. Add cumin and caraway seeds, the spices and garlic, stir.
- Step 5 Add 2 tablespoons minced chipotle peppers in adobo to pan.
- Step 6 Add tomatoes, honey if using, feta and stir. Make 4 to 6 nests in meat sauce using the back of a wooden spoon and drop eggs into them. Transfer pan to oven for 8 to 10 minutes till eggs set.
- Step 7 For naan, heat a griddle over high heat. Scatter a little water onto skillet and griddle the bread to blister, then flip. Brush bread with melted butter and cut into pieces/wide strips.
- Step 8 Garnish eggs with dollops of yogurt if using, and scallions.
Here are a three other great ground lamb recipes: