At first glance, shakshuka might look like the result of a jolly in kitchen after a heavy night of drinking. Not that great things don’t come from cooking after a night out, but this particular dish (also spelled shakshouka) is in fact a one that’s much beloved across most of Northern Africa and the Middle East. Literally meaning ‘a mixture’ in Arabic Tunisian, it’s a simple combination of tomatoes, vegetables and spices which is then used to poach one or more eggs sitting on top. It’s easy to make no matter what part of the world you’re in and has countless variants that include additional ingredients like meats and cheeses. Although typically a breakfast dish, its popularity in countries like Israel have transformed it into something of an all-day affair, enjoyed in the evenings and especially during winter.
For this particular version, I included halloumi cheese to add a bit of creaminess. It’s such an easy recipe to make, comes out looking great and if you’re having a get together, is a really nice sharing dish that visually beguiles its simplicity. Ensure you have some bread to serve it with, that sauce isn’t going to mop itself up!
3 tbs extra virgin olive oil
1 red pepper, thinly sliced
½ large onion, thinly sliced
3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
½ tsp sugar
¼ tsp cayenne pepper (½-1 tsp if you prefer it medium-hot)
1 tsp cumin powder
1 tbs sweet paprika
1 tsp salt
¼ tsp black pepper
2 400g tins of peeled plum tomatoes
200g halloumi cheese, diced
6 large eggs
Coriander leaves for garnish
The tinned tomatoes can now be added; ensure you break up the tomatoes well and stir until the contents of the pan are well mixed. Allow to reduce for 15-20 minutes or until thickened, stirring occasionally. Add the diced halloumi and stir it in.
Before you add the eggs, make sure to push little indents into the surface of the sauce so that the yolks do not run away from you and become unevenly spaced. Now crack each egg and gently drop them evenly around the pan. Cover with a lid and allow the eggs to poach for 13-15 minutes, or until the yolks and whites have just set.
Remove from the heat and season with salt and pepper to your taste. Garnish with the coriander leaves and serve with bread.