Shakshuka

When I say the word shakshuka, people often give me a strange look… like I’ve sneezed, or something. I get excited when I see that look– it means they don’t know what the heck shakshuka is, which means they have no idea what they’re missing out on. If you aren’t familiar with shakshuka, I’m thrilled to introduce the concept to you! It’s one of my favorite dishes—a simple, go-to meal that works as a breakfast, lunch, or dinner (“brinner” might be the more appropriate word, since eggs are the star of the dish). I always have the ingredients for shakshuka on hand, and it never fails to make people say “yum!”

In Israel shakshuka is often eaten for breakfast, but I usually find myself serving it with a side salad as a light evening meal. It’s super easy and versatile. When my hubby was in the Israeli army, he and the other soldiers would sneak into the barracks kitchen late at night and cook shakshuka using whatever they could find in the pantries. It’s a vegetarian one-skillet meal that is easy to make, very healthy, and totally addicting.

I’ve enjoyed shakshuka several times in Israel, most recently at a famous restaurant called Dr. Shakshuka.

The charm of Dr. Shakshuka is evident from the moment you enter. The restaurant is housed in an aging building in the old port city of Jaffa. It’s buzzing all day long with local patrons as well as tourists, everybody eager to taste the “Tripolitanian”-style cooking. The owner Bino Gabso was born to a Libyan family that immigrated to Israel in 1949. He’s been serving shakshuka and other north-African favorites to enthusiastic restaurant patrons in Jaffa for the past 18 years.

Old kerosene stoves hang from the rafters of the place, just like the moms and bubbes cooked with when Israel first became a country.

Dr. Shakshuka is known for its Libyan-style home cooking. It’s a kosher meat restaurant with many yummy traditional dishes including couscous, hraime fish, and kosher merguez sausage. They are best known for– what else?– shakshuka. I couldn’t very well visit Dr. Shakshuka without ordering their signature dish. For a twist, I ordered it with mushrooms. I’d never tried it with mushrooms before, and I must say the idea is inspired!

The waitress served my shakshuka in a small, sizzling skillet, as is the custom with most of the local Israeli restaurants. I was surprised to find the eggs quite runny, just barely cooked. I prefer my eggs well-done, particularly when it comes to shakshuka. They were happy to accommodate my preference by cooking it a bit longer. This was some very tasty shakshuka (please excuse the cruddy photo, the lighting inside the restaurant was not great). I cleaned my skillet. After you’ve eaten the eggs, it’s customary to scoop up the remaining sauce with a piece of fluffy white bread. The bread at Dr. Shakshuka has a light, spongy consistency making it ideal for this purpose. Of course, if you’re watching your waistline, gluten intolerant, or serving for Passover, you can leave out the bread; the dish is also wonderful on its own.

I can’t very well write a blog about shakshuka without sharing my own recipe! This is a basic, simple shakshuka spiced just the way I like it. For variety, different ingredients can be added to the tomato base—jalapenos, green chilies, parsley, red pepper flakes, or anything else that sounds tasty to you. I’ve even made shakshuka with a spinach/tomato base that turned out great.  Use your imagination!  It’s a healthy, delicious dish that is easy to make and easy on the wallet. It’s also dairy free (pareve) and kosher for Passover, which means you can enjoy it all year long!

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 medium brown or white onion, peeled and diced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 medium green or red bell pepper, chopped
  • 4 cups ripe diced tomatoes, or 2 cans (14 oz. each) diced tomatoes
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 tsp chili powder (mild)
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • Pinch of cayenne pepper (or more to taste-- spicy!)
  • Pinch of sugar (optional, to taste)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 5-6 eggs
  • 1/2 tbsp fresh chopped parsley (optional, for garnish)
Prep Time: 10 Minutes
Total Time: 30 - 40 Minutes
Servings: 5-6
Kosher Key: Pareve, Kosher for Passover
  • Heat a deep, large skillet or sauté pan on medium. Slowly warm olive oil in the pan. Add chopped onion, sauté for a few minutes until the onion begins to soften. Add garlic and continue to sauté till mixture is fragrant.
  • Add the bell pepper, sauté for 5-7 minutes over medium until softened.
  • Add tomatoes and tomato paste to pan, stir till blended. Add spices and sugar, stir well, and allow mixture to simmer over medium heat for 5-7 minutes till it starts to reduce. At this point, you can taste the mixture and spice it according to your preferences. Add salt and pepper to taste, more sugar for a sweeter sauce, or more cayenne pepper for a spicier shakshuka (be careful with the cayenne... it is extremely spicy!).
  • Crack the eggs, one at a time, directly over the tomato mixture, making sure to space them evenly over the sauce. I usually place 4-5 eggs around the outer edge and 1 in the center. The eggs will cook "over easy" style on top of the tomato sauce.
  • Cover the pan. Allow mixture to simmer for 10-15 minutes, or until the eggs are cooked and the sauce has slightly reduced. Keep an eye on the skillet to make sure that the sauce doesn't reduce too much, which can lead to burning.
  • Some people prefer their shakshuka eggs more runny. If this is your preference, let the sauce reduce for a few minutes before cracking the eggs on top-- then, cover the pan and cook the eggs to taste.
  • Garnish with the chopped parsley, if desired. Shakshuka can be eaten for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. For breakfast, serve with warm crusty bread or pita that can be dipped into the sauce (if you’re gluten-intolerant or celebrating Passover, skip the bread). For dinner, serve with a green side salad for a light, easy meal.
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Category: Breakfast, Entrees, Gluten Free, Healthy, In the Kitchen, Nut Free, Pareve, Passover, Passover - Gluten Free Sephardic, Passover - Sephardic, Passover - Vegetarian Sephardic, Recipes, Vegetarian, Yom Kippur Break Fast

Comments (165)Post a Comment

  1. Lisa says:

    So interesting! Thanks for sharing your journey behind this dish.

  2. Eabha Nì Ghrainne says:

    I found you through Pinterest. I love this dish and its going on the menu for tomorrow night. We love to try dishes from all over. Being an Irish family we always wonder where is the POTATOES, so i might through in some cudes of potatoes. Ill boil them a teeny bit first but i cant stop thinking about all the soaking up of the yummie sauce they will do. Go raibh mile mhaith agat. (a thousands thank yous)

    Eabha

  3. tinsenpup says:

    Thank you for this lovely recipe. We enjoyed it very much. I’ll be pleased to add it to our regular morning repertoire and look forward to trying some of the variations mentioned in the comments.

  4. Judie says:

    Had this the first time on tour in Israel climbing down Masada and finding our bus driver had made this for us with Turkish coffee…ours was also scrambled and this was back in 1966…clearly a wonderful, strong memory!

  5. Natalie says:

    I made this on Saturday and my hubby almost hurt himself from eating so much! I told him that it was a healthy meatless dish from Israel…he then added, “It would taste awesome with bacon!” Sometimes I just have to shake my head and walk off. *lol*

  6. Anne says:

    I’ve eaten at Dr. Shakshuka many years ago…I can still taste it. I can truly say it is the best!

  7. Nechamah says:

    I had never even heard of the dish before, but I made it for breakfast this morning. Amazing. I packed a container of it for my sweetie to have at work and got a text saying “WOW!” So glad you posted this!

  8. goldie says:

    Have tried shakshuka many times, but didn’t come out right. This one looks amazing and just what I’m looking for, will try it this weekend (a few times :). One question, didn’t the tomato sauce strip the patina off your cast iron skillet? I thought acidic foods were the kryptonite of cast iron.

    • Tori Avey says:

      Hi Goldie, I used to make shakshuka in a cast iron but have since switched over to my regular skillet due to the acid erosion. I would recommend using a regular or nonstick skillet instead. The cast iron makes for a prettier photo, but it’s not the ideal pan for this recipe due to the tomato base. If you do use a cast iron make sure it’s well seasoned, and don’t let the tomato mixture sit in the pan for very long.

  9. Heather Deitchman Levy says:

    I made your shakshuka this morning and it was delicious and quite easy to reduce for three eggs.

    Thanks

  10. Cathy says:

    Looks yummy and will make this recipe. Will be great for Enog after services.
    Will be in Israel in March and I’m looking forward to eating in restuarants I see on FB and will probably gain a few pounds in the process. Will put this place on my agenda.

  11. arwa says:

    we have the same dish with the same name here in Tunisia

  12. beni says:

    I was in Israel in June of this year. I went with a friend. We saw the beautiful Jaffa. We wanted to eat at Dr. Shakshuka, but could not find it the first day due to being to excited.
    So, we went the next day and walked all over, ate at Alladin Restaurant. Then we went for a walk, and there it was, Dr. Shakshuka’s Restuarant. We could not eat there because we were full at that point. We could not make it back to the restaurant, since there was so much to see and do in Tel Aviv before heading to Jerusalem. I loved everything in Isreal, the warmth of the peopl, the breathtaking hitorical places, and for sure the amazing food. Thanks for sharing this recipe. I will make it and remember our walk in Jaffa.

  13. Marianna says:

    This turned out amazing! Thank you! Better than in Israeli restaurants!

  14. Alexis says:

    OMG! I know this post is old. but Dr. Shakshouka is the best! When I come back to Tel Aviv I’m making a beeline for Yafo.

  15. Custard says:

    Back in the old country we made it a different way — My parents taught me to scramble the eggs.

    I just gave this method a try and the results were fantastic.

  16. Lily says:

    I would like to thank you, before I forget, for this DELICIOUS shakshouka recipe!
    I made it, and then raved about it for nearly a week!
    I am a post bariatric patient with a desire to educate myself with fresh ingredients and home cooking. With this recipe in mind, I walked to my farmers’ market a few weeks ago as well as a local grocery store. Took out my frying pan, and made this amazing, delectable dinner, with enough leftover for the next day.
    I also shared the recipe with my nutritionist who was also very impressed by it, since it was perfect for certain stages of a post bariatric diet. Knowing that this is a Kosher for Passover recipe, I can share more knowledge with others! Do you have any more similar to this? Thanx again!

  17. The Joneses says:

    Thanks for the recipe and photos. Very easy to follow.

  18. Cameron says:

    We are very big on Sunday brunch in my house and this recipe is quickly becoming one of our favorites. I have made it a few times now and everyone just loves it. I even added chickpeas and it turned out great. Thank you!

  19. Dannny says:

    May I suggest sprinkle some chopped mint leaves on the shakshuka just before serving? it will totally add a twist to the whole thing.

  20. judit paton says:

    I love your blog, coming here for the Maroccan fish but you have plenty of recipes what i am looking for, as i did taste them when i did visit Israel and ever since i long for them. Right now i am cooking the shakshuka eggs, i did taste it in Beersheva, in a small rather dirty Iraki restaurant, quite burned but still wonderful. Now i am exited about this stylish recipe, even if i will not cover my eggs, as i like them a bit uncooked…thank you so very much, you have me your best new fan.

  21. Ashleigh says:

    I just came across this very similar recipe in my ‘Plenty’ cookbook by Yotam Ottolenghi yesterday. It struck me that it is very similar to an Italian one that I often use that has chilli flakes in the tomato sauce and Parmesan cheese sprinkled over the eggs before putting the lid on. This is one of my favourite easy dishes when a friend pops by and we want a bit of a snack. As a bit if a cheat I always have a can/ pack of tomatoes mixed with chilli and olive oil.
    I am always on the look out for a short-cut!
    Ashleigh

  22. Darcie says:

    I can not wait to try this, I love trying new dishes.

  23. Tana says:

    Love your blog and recipes, Tori. :-) I made your shakshuka last night for dinner, and it was delicious! Thank you! Having fallen in love with Rosti in Switzerland, my husband and I like our shakshuka served on hash browns. This is a wonderful way to soak up the yummy sauce. For a more subtle flavor, I sometimes season the shakshuka with Hungarian paprika and saffron.

  24. Kristin says:

    I stumbled across your blog today while looking for a recipe for chicken shawarma, and I’m so happy I found you. I am currently simmering your chicken chick pea stew for dinner! Being a Gentile from Pittsburgh, my exposure to Jewish food has been primarily Ashkenazi. So I am excited to follow your blog and learn more about the foods from the entire Jewish diaspora. I saw the picture in the sidebar for this recipe and it intrigued me. I always knew this dish as “Eggs in Purgatory” and a Spanish dish that I first tasted in high school Spanish class. And a high school friend from Turkey’s mother also made a similar dish for us once. Since then, I have seen many variations. Which leads me to this question: I had not previously considered eggs simmered or baked in tomato sauce to be a “Jewish” food, though it makes sense to me that it would be a Sephardic dish, given my initial exposure to it. And there are so many cultures in the Mediterranean, Mideastern, North African regions that have similar dishes. It intrigues me how different cultures influence each other when they meet through trade and travel, especially with food. Do you have any more information regarding the origins of this dish and how different cultures have adapted it?

    • Tori Avey says:

      Hi Kristin, I recommend you check out The Encyclopedia of Jewish Food by Gil Marks, it provides a detailed history of this dish. Shakshuka has roots in the Ottoman Empire. Originally a meat and vegetable stew known as saksuka, it evolved to a vegetarian dish in North Africa. Jewish immigrants from Tunisia and Morocco brought the dish to Israel. As you have noticed, there are different versions throughout the Mediterranean and Middle East. In the diaspora, Jews spread out all over the world, which means that most “Jewish food” is actually regional food, adapted to suit the kosher laws. Many families have made aliyah back to Israel, where those global flavors and regional influences come together in exciting, unexpected ways… like shakshuka, for example. So happy you’re enjoying the site!

  25. Ellen Lover says:

    This is VERY similar, if not the same,to the “Ranch eggs” (huevos rancheros) they serve in Mexico at breakfast time, but popular at all other meals. I just had a serving I made exactly as described, but added fresh green peas and sweet corn for color. I was surprised when after eating mine, I came across this recipe. It made my day, since I learned a new name for an old favorite dish. Thanks for posting it.
    I have never visited Israel, but it is on my wish list and sometime I will go, I am sure.

  26. Mike UK says:

    Goes nice with chopped up bacon, chorizo and mozzarella.

  27. Kaila says:

    I really love this website… so much. I’m working on a school project that is essentially a booklet outlining the food culture of Israel, and you’d be surprised how hard it is to find Israeli Cookbooks from where I’m from. This blog undoubtedly saved this project and my sanity. And now I REALLY want to try Shakshuka! And Falafel… and Jachnun… and homemade hummus… and… well, you get the idea. :)

    • Tana says:

      I, too, am completely taken by the food of Israel and the middle east! Tori’s recipes are delicious! I have also found many Jewish and Persian cookbooks very helpful, and addicting. :-)

  28. Baking_princess says:

    Hello,
    I am from Israel and have made shakshuka many times,it was nothing special and I made your recipe tonight and my boyfriend loved it like crazy, thank you keep it up :)

  29. Perry says:

    i wanted the recipe because I tasted in many restaraunts and was delicious but none beat this recipe. thanks

  30. fionagalaxy says:

    great recipe! thank you! I just made it and it was very good.

  31. Ber says:

    Okay, since going vegan my son and family had sorely missed this dish. Soooo, I cut up some Yukon Gold potatoes, you could use reds as well, into large size chunks and boiled them. Then made this dish without the eggs and poured it over the potatoes. They are happy campers again. lol One of them suggested my deep fried tofu chunks would work well too. I may try that next time.

  32. Glyn says:

    Thank you for sharing a wonderful recipe. I found out about this dish by looking up a kosher pizza vegetarian restaurant in my area that my family and I just spotted today on our way home. I went online and viewed their delicious looking menu and found shakshuka was one dish listed. I did an image search online and my mouth watered the second results started popping up.
    I found your recipe and made it as part of dinner tonight. My boyfriend and I loved it. I can’t wait to try some of the other veggies in it like squash, spinach etc. I did cook mine longer tonight, so next time we’ll try with the eggs a little runny. Typically I’m not a huge egg person, I was surprised to have cleaned my plate! Thank you again. This will be a repeat meal for us.

  33. cindy says:

    Hi, I too love this dish. It reminds of what they eat in Spain. Im guessing that since the Spanish brought over the tomato from the Americas in the 1500s , is the reason why many variations of it are found in the Mediterranean . Just think what we would be missing if not for the tomato!

  34. kaisa tavastila says:

    thanks for the recipe. i used to live in a jewish family in Israel about 8 years ago an my “mum” would often make this in the evenings – even if we would just have eaten some street food before arriving home, there was always room for some shackshucka in my stomack. specially the wonderful sauce!!!! luckily i found your recipe: it looks somehow similar to the one i was used to to eat!

  35. Alina says:

    Looks good, can’t wait to try it! Thank you for all the inspirational recipes for Passover, and generally. You are my culinary hero! :)

  36. Dan Kovnat says:

    I have lived in Israel 20 years and LOVE shakshuka, but never made it before. I stumbled upon your blog and recipe, picked it over the others I found and perused, made it, and, voila, gobbled it down. Especially enjoyed reading your writing style, almost as much as cooking and consuming this dish.
    Thank You :-)

  37. Siera says:

    Thank you!! Thank you!! I had breakfast in an adorable restaurant in San Francisco last month and this is what I had. I couldn’t remember the name but I saw a demo dish (it was the special on display) and ordered it. I had just gotten off the Whole30 diet and it was FANTASTIC! Can’t wait to make it!! Thank you!!

  38. Ed says:

    I have read so much about not cooking acidic foods in cast iron and so have avoided it. Have you had any concerns with this? I hope to try this recipe very soon. As tmy mother used to say, “what could be bad”?

  39. Robert says:

    Dear Tori,
    I made your recipe this evening and it was delicious. Even the children liked it.
    One question however: how DO you eat it, with a knife and fork or a spoon’?

    • Tori Avey says:

      Great! I eat it with a fork and a knife, then I sop up the leftover sauce with a slice of challah or whole grain bread. But you can eat it however you like! :)

  40. Olivia says:

    First time shashushka eater! I’m on a paleo diet and this recipe fits well within the plan, minus the sugar. I added shredded sweet potato for sweetness and to make it more filling since I cannot eat bread. DELICIOUS! Will definitely make again. Thank you for sharing!

  41. ajax151 says:

    I’m trying not quibble but is this really a “Jewish dish”? This is a North African Berber+Arabic dish that is traditional to the region and because of cultural spread, made it to the people in Israel. I don’t know, I’m actually Chinese and my cultural roots in the region are non-existent as are yours but I find this kind of cultural appropriation uncomfortable.

    • Tori Avey says:

      Did you read the post? You must not have, otherwise you wouldn’t accuse me of “cultural appropriation.” I stated clearly that this dish has a North African (Libyan) origin. Never once in the blog did I describe this as a “Jewish” dish. I discussed the North African roots of Bino Gasbo, the owner of Dr. Shakshuka, and said that he brought his version of the dish from Libya to Jaffa. The fact is, shakshuka is one of the most popular in Israel, just as pasta (from Italy by way of Arab nomadic tribes from Asia) is one of the most popular in America. My own experience of the dish comes from versions I have tried throughout Israel and those made by Israeli Americans, hence my description of Dr. Shakshuka restaurant. Israelis have clearly adopted and embraced the dish, and this blog is a reflection of my personal experience with shakshuka. If I had first tried shakshuka in North Africa, I would have framed it with that experience instead.

  42. I’ve made this dish so many times! I, too, have eaten at Dr. Shakshuka and you’re right – it’s pretty fabulous! All of the discussions of the origins of this dish made me want to share a story with you. I currently live in China (frankly, its a good thing I don’t try to keep Kosher over here) and I make this all the time when I want comfort food because the ingredients are easy to find. The funny thing is, there’s a similar-ish egg and tomato stir-fry that everyone eats over here. It’s one of those things you wouldn’t find in a “Chinese” western restaurant because everyone’s mom knows how to make it. Whenever I make this dish, I have to make a double portion to share at work – my Chinese colleagues love this stuff! They think it is a great “improvement” on the dish they grew up with. Explaining that it’s Middle Eastern and not “American” is sometimes a bit tricky with the language barrier, but it’s so fun to share food across cultures. Thank you for sharing again!

  43. Neve Joanna says:

    Stumbled upon Shakshuka in Peru earlier this year weirdly enough (lot’s of Israeli’s travel to South America in their ‘gap’ year)! Fell completely in love with it and have been searching the net for an easy step by step guide to make it! Thanks so much! I need to introduce this dish to all my friends!!!

  44. Libyan says:

    Nice to know a little bit of Libya made it to Israel! When I get some time I’ll send you the recipe as commonly used here, it’ll be interesting to see how it’s evolved over the past 45+ years.

    Just a side note Hraime Fish was actually created by the Jews of Libya, still regarded as a delicacy to this day here. It’s nick name in arabic is directly translated as Jewish Food.

  45. Beth says:

    Thank you for this great recipe!! I used to eat at a restaurant called “The Hummus Place” in NYC. I have been craving this dish ever since I moved away. They served a hummus and a spicy herb sauce on the side that I could never figure out but Trader Joe’s carries a cilantro jalapeno hummus that I find goes fabulously with your recipe. I am so glad I can enjoy this dish again with your recipe.

  46. Atsbitscrisp says:

    Had an awesome one tonight at Schwarma Co. In Johannesburg and was looking for a good recipe. Thanks for posting this. I often have the same reaction when telling people about it. Never had it for breakfast but that seems like an awesome idea.

  47. Margie MacKenzie says:

    Tory, I’ve been asked to cater a bar mitzvah brunch and shakshuka has been requested.This will be a group of 35 people. Will this recipe work well when prepared in hotel pans that will then go into chafing dishes? I’m not Jewish, nor have I prepared this before, but it looks like it may work well in a larger prep pan. Your thoughts are appreciated. Thank you!

    • Tori Avey says:

      Hi Margie! I have never made a larger batch, but I’m guessing it would probably work great. I would make sure that the eggs are fully cooked in this case, if the shakshuka is going to be sitting in chafing dishes for a long period of time… not sure about the food safety of keeping them somewhat runny for a long period of time. Also allow extra time to reduce a bigger batch of sauce… the more sauce there is the longer it takes to reduce.

    • Mashugana says:

      Tori
      I would think that Margie would make everything except the eggs in the chaffing dishes. Just before the guests decide to sit down she would place the eggs on top of the mixture. Then she would cover and make sure not to serve till it was done. I do agree that she would need the mixture to be add some more liquid (as needed)

    • Tori Avey says:

      Hi Mashugana– yes, as long as the heat of the chafing dishes is high enough to cook the eggs. Some chafing dishes only keep foods warm and won’t heat up enough to cook anything, but some certainly have the capacity to gently cook.

  48. Margie MacKenzie says:

    Thanks Tory and Mashugana! I think I’ll be able to prepare this for a crowd thanks to your comments. And I’m going to make a small scale practice run for dinner tonight!

    One of my favorite breakfasts, and a very healthy low fat one at that, is placing 2 TBS of salsa in a ramekin and cracking an egg on top and baking for about 20 minutes. An easy version of shaskuka and very tasty!

  49. Ed says:

    Great dish. Great directions. As are all of your recipes. Also, as an added dividend, not fattening. Ingredients are always easy to get and can be used often enough that one doesn’t become a collector of outdated herbs and spices. Keep them coming….please.

  50. Sophia L. says:

    Not a fan of well-pronounced tomato paste flavor, I make it without any tomato paste. I use a lot of fresh tomatoes and more peppers, yellow or red (and of course, onion, garlic and spices), and just sauté everything for a while and then, because it’s not as liquidy, I make indentations with a soup spoon and drop the eggs in. Delicious! I love shakshuka!

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