This healthy and nutritious one pan recipe for spicy Shakshuka is adapted from the Jerusalem cookbook by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamini of the Ottolenghi restaurant group.
It is by far the best poached eggs in tomato sauce recipe that I have eaten, and as good as the Green Shakshuka from Baker & Spice here in Dubai. Incidentally the two chefs became friends when they met and worked for Baker & Spice in London.
In December there was a revival of the Words to Wok cookbook club that I joined a few years ago via a facebook group. I was unable to attend the first meeting in Dubai, but we decided on Jerusalem as the first book to cook from and discuss for the year.
Amongst the recipes that I tried were the Shakshuka poached eggs in spicy tomato sauce and homemade Labneh recipes that I decided to share on the blog as I love them both so much. My homemade Labneh recipe is so easy to make you will never buy it again.
A number of the participants have posted their creations under #fromwordstowok on Instagram and every image is mouthwatering from the spicy shakshuka to the baharat spice and the orange and marmalade cake.
What is Shakshuka?
Shakshuka is a North African dish of tomatoes, eggs, bell peppers, onions and herbs. The eggs are poached in a spicy tomato and bell pepper based sauce and is flavored with garlic, cumin, paprika and cayenne pepper.
There are no onions in the Ottolenghi Shakshuka recipe and the hot spices are replaced by harissa, a spicy and fragrant North African chili paste. The recipe includes labneh for serving, but you can replace it and make the Shakshuka with feta crumbled into the sauce before serving.
You can make the shakshuka vegan by substituting tofu for the eggs and adding kale or spinach to the tomato sauce.
How to make the perfect Shakshuka
- Use ripe fresh in season tomatoes or tinned tomatoes for the best flavor.
- To add depth of flavor I always cook the bell peppers before adding spices or other ingredients.
- If you don’t like eating chunks of partly cooked tomato or how much liquid it produces after cooking, I would recommend that you grate the fresh tomatoes before adding it to the pan so that it cooks down completely.
- Cook the sauce until it has amalgamated and very little excess watery liquid remains but it is not dry. If you cover it with a lid after the eggs are added, there will be some additional condensation.
- As with baking, use room temperature eggs so that the whites and yolks don’t seize up when they come into contact with the hot sauce and turn rubbery.
- I never add eggs directly into anything and break it into a small bowl first. This will ensure that you won’t have to throw out the sauce on the off-chance that you get a rotten egg.
- Turn the heat down to very low after you add the eggs because the sauce will be bubbling hot and will cook the eggs rapidly.
- Watch the pan after you add the eggs to the sauce to prevent overcooking the egg whites and yolks. It is possible to make baked eggs in tomato sauce but the cooking time may differ.
- This recipe does not include any onions but if you want additional sweetness and depth of flavor you could saute a chopped onion with the peppers before adding the spices and tomatoes.
If you love eggs then give my other Ottolenghi recipe, the Caramelised garlic tart a go. It tastes amazing!
Shakshuka - Poached eggs in spicy tomato sauce
- 15 ml olive oil (approximately 1 tablespoon)
- 150 grams red bell pepper, chopped and deseeded (approximately 1 large)
- 15 ml harissa (approximately 1 tablespoon)
- 5 ml tomato paste (approximately 1 teaspoon)
- 2 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
- 2.5 ml ground cumin (approximately 1/2 teaspoon)
- 400 grams tomatoes, chopped or grated (approximately 3 medium)
- 4 eggs, at room temperature
- 60 grams labneh
- Heat the oil in a medium sized pan over high heat and add the chopped red bell pepper. Cook for 2-3 minutes until it is slightly charred.
- Reduce the heat to medium then add the harissa, tomato paste, chopped garlic and ground cumin to the peppers and cook for a further 5 minutes until the peppers are soft.
- Add the chopped tomatoes or grated tomato pulp to the peppers cook on a gentle simmer until most of the watery liquid is evaporated. This will take another 8-10 minutes.
- Reduce the heat to low then make indentations in the sauce with the back of a spoon to hold the eggs.
- Break an egg into a small bowl and pour each egg into it's own hollow.
- Simmer the eggs in the sauce until the egg whites are starting to become less opaque or see through but the yolks are still runny. At a low heat this will take 6-8 minutes.
- The eggs will continue to cook in the sauce so remove it from the heat before the egg whites and yolks are completely set.
- Leave for 5 minutes to settle and flavors to meld before serving with labneh and bread.
- I halved the original recipe to make Shakshuka for one or two people.
- I used 4 whole eggs instead of 2 eggs and 2 egg yolks as I had no need for unused egg whites.
Nutritional information for the recipe is an approximation and varies according to the ingredients and products used.
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