Shakshuka is a hearty, yet remarkably light breakfast dish of eggs poached in a thick tomato based sauce. It hails from North Africa, but has long been an extremely popular dish all around the Middle East.
I’ve been fortunate enough to have eaten shakshuka in many countries in both regions mentioned above, including the legendary Dr Shakshuka in Jaffa, Israel. Some were thick, some were runny, some very spicy while some were full of bell peppers.
But they all had one thing in common – they were all delicious! Poached eggs in a thick, slightly spicy, sometimes smoky tomato based sauce. Lots and lots of bread is a must!
Shakshuka with Burrata
In the image below, I’ve added a favourite Apulian cheese, Burrata, for a delicious, creamy treat, as you dip into the sauce.
Shakshuka is a very, very easy recipe to make at home. It’s one of those dishes I love making for brunch, when my friends come over. It takes about 30 minutes, and I’m chatting with them as I’m cooking it.
Having said that, I’ve also been known to serve it as a light lunch or dinner when I’m feeling lazy.
As with any popular, traditional recipe, there are tiny differences in the dish from region to region and family to family. Let’s take a look at what it takes to make Shakshuka at home.
Tomatoes in Shakshuka
This is the basis of the dish. Some people insist on using fresh tomatoes, some like to use canned. When it comes to tomato based sauces, I have always felt that canned tomatoes give you the best, deeper flavour, and that’s the route I take.
Naturally, it’s a matter of preference, and season, especially if you have lots from your garden. If you are using fresh tomatoes, you want the fully ripe, soft and sweet variety to achieve the best flavour. Otherwise, use the canned ones.
A little tomato paste is also great in Shakshuka. I use sundried tomato paste, as to me, it’s much superior in flavour when used in tomato based sauces. In fact, if you are a long time reader of LinsFood, you’ll know that it’s a “secret weapon” in many of my recipes.
Paprika in Shakshuka
Paprika adds depth to the dish. And heat if you are using the spicy variety. Whether you should be using smoked or non smoked paprika in shakshuka is a bone of contention for many. I suggest you try them both and decide for yourself which you prefer.
I love a touch of smoky flavour in my shakshuka, and so usually go for smoked paprika plus some chilli powder, as in the recipe here.
You can combine the paprika and chilli powder into 1 tablespoon of hot smoked paprika, if you like spicy. As I’ve done in the video.
Speaking of Chilli Powder
Every single time I see an explanation for chilli powder written on an American website, it is described as chilli peppers mixed with other stuff. To most of the rest of the world, chilli powder, is just that – chilli peppers in powdered form, nothing else added. What Americans would call ground cayenne or cayenne powder.
To say that cayenne powder is hotter than chilli powder is just plain wrong, because it rather depends on what types of chilli were used to make that powder.
For eg, I have dried scotch bonnets from last year’s harvest. If I were to ground them to a powder in my spice mill, that would be a seriously hot chilli powder, no? And that’s what we call it – chilli powder, whether in Asia where I grew up, or here in the UK, where I’ve been living for over 25 years.
So on LinsFood, chilli powder means pure, unadulterated chilli peppers in powdered form, ground chilli peppers.
Eggs in Shakshuka
I usually go for one egg per diner, but feel free to go for 2, if you fancy. Chicken eggs or even duck eggs are perfect for this. And I’ve even used quail eggs when making extra small portions of shakshuka served as starters for clients, as above.
Cheese or no Cheese?
That is completely up to you. I prefer to leave the shakshuka “bare” more often than not. However, I cannot deny that adding cheese to it just raises it to another level. So you decide which way you want to go with it.
What is Burrata?
Burrata is a cheese pouch, to put it simply! It hails from Puglia and has been around since early 20th century. Burrata, which means buttery, is a pouch made of stretchy cheese much like mozzarella, that holds a combination of fresh cream (panna in Italian) and leftover cheese scraps from making mozzarella. These cheese scraps are called stracciatella, meaning small rags. I think a whole post on Burrata is called for!
I love burrata, it’s cheese and cream in one! To me, tomato based sauces are the perfect foil to cheese, and one of my favourite parts of eating shakshuka is breaking into a still soft egg and dipping up that runny yolk. This is made even more enjoyable with the soft creamy burrata in the mix!
Adding feta cheese to shakshuka seems to be a very, very popular thing to do. And if that is what you prefer, or perhaps you can’t get burrata, all you need to do is sprinkle some crumbled feta cheese all over our shakshuka here, after turning the heat off.
Other Shakshuka Recipes on LinsFood
Shakshuka for One
This is pretty easy. Just reduce the recipe here by diving the ingredients by 4, and use a small frying pan perfect for one. Like the green shakshuka above. Here you go, the ingredients for one:
- 1/2 Tbsp EV olive oil
- 1 small onion, chopped
- 1 very small clove garlic, finely chopped
- pinch ground cumin
- 1/2 tsp sweet smoked paprika
- 1/4 tsp chilli powder (mild or hot, up to you)
- 1/4 red capsicum (bell pepper)
- pinch white sugar
- 200g (7 oz) can chopped tomatoes
- 1/2 Tbsp sundried tomato paste
- 1/4 tsp salt
- freshly ground black pepper
- 1 egg
- 1 small burrata (or mozzarella to sprinkle over)
- some fresh parsley, chopped
Make Ahead Shakshuka/Can Shakshuka be Reheated?
If you want to make your shakshuka ahead, do it right up to the point before you add the eggs. Then just before serving, heat it up to simmering, then continue with step 6 in the recipe below, which is adding the eggs.
What to Serve with Shakshuka?
Bread. Lots and lots of bread! In whatever form. Baguette, flatbread, ciabatta, it’s all good!
Let’s get our aprons on go cook us some Shakshuka with Burrata!
More North African and Middle Eastern Recipes on LinsFood
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Shakshuka (a Middle Eastern Vegetarian One Pot Meal)
- 2 Tbsp EV olive oil
- 1 medium onion
- 1 medium clove garlic
- ½ tsp ground cumin
- 2 tsp sweet smoked paprika
- 1 tsp chilli powder mild or hot, up to you
- 1 red capsicum bell pepper
- ½ tsp white sugar
- 800 g chopped tomatoes (2 x 400g)
- 2 Tbsp sundried tomato paste
- 1 tsp salt
- freshly ground black pepper
- 4 eggs
- 1 small handful flat leaf parsley (curly will do too)
- Dice the onion and capsicum into 1 cm (just under 1") pieces and set them aside separately.
- Finely chop the garlic.
- Finely chop the parsley and set aside.
Cooking the Shakshuka
- Heat the olive oil on medium-low heat, in a medium-sized frying pan or shallow casserole dish.
- Fry the onions for 2 minutes, stirring regularly.
- Add the garlic, fry for 30 seconds, then add the cumin, paprika and chilli powder. Stir it all around for another 30 seconds. Don’t worry if it’s dry.
- Add the capsicum (bell pepper) and sugar, stir to coat the pieces with the spice mix in the pan.
- Add the chopped tomatoes, the sundried tomato paste, and the salt. Increase the heat, stir, and bring to a boil. Then, lower the heat right down, and simmer, uncovered, for 15 minutes.
- At the end of the 15 minutes, check seasoning, add more salt if you need it, and some freshly ground black pepper. Give the shakshuka base a good stir, then it's time to drop the eggs in.
- Make a few small wells in the tomato sauce, and add the eggs in, one at a time, spacing them out. Leave the middle clear for our burrata. Cover and cook for 5-10 minutes until they are just set. The time will depend on how you like your eggs. I like the whites set but the yolk, still very runny, so 5 minutes is as long as I cook it at this stage.
- When you are happy with the eggs, place the burrata gently in the middle and heat through for no more than a minute.
- Top it with plenty of freshly ground black pepper and the freshly chopped parsley and take it to the table and serve immediately.