What is shakshuka?
Shakshuka (or shakshouka) is a delicious dish that is a popular favorite in Israel, thought to originate from Tunisia, that has a sauce base of tomato, pepper and onions and topped with an egg poached in the sauce. The seasoning varies, some versions are spiced with chile, others are herby. In ‘original’ versions there’s no cheese added but it’s become common to include feta or labneh (a common soft cheese in the Eastern Mediterranean area). It is traditionally a breakfast dish, but has gained popularity in other countries I think in large part as it makes a fantastic brunch dish, or lunch. Here I have strayed a little from the traditional to create a shakshuka with added ground beef/beef mince, which compliments existing flavors for a wonderfully delicious and satisfying dish.
In this beefed-up shakshuka, the ground beef takes on the delicious herb and spice-flavored tomato, onion and pepper sauce and creates a dish that sustains you throughout the morning (or afternoon). It’s great served with bread to help mop up the delicious sauce. Shakshuka is something I love to get for brunch at a cafe near us, but I also love making this version at home – we’ve shared it with friends and family a few times as well and is always a hit.
Tips for making shakshuka
The dish is easy to make and best of all, you can make the sauce in advance and either store it in the refrigerator for a day or two, or freeze it, then heat it up and add the egg when you are ready to eat it. It’s worth cooking up a big batch and dividing it up for later. That way you can make it nice and quickly when you need it and spend more time enjoying it. The recipe below is for four people, but you can easily increase or decrease the amounts for the number of people you are cooking for. If you have a larger number of people, it is easiest to cook it in a larger pan and divide it up, but you can also cook individual portions in a small skillet/frying pan.
This beefed-up shakshuka is a thoroughly delicious dish, slightly spiced with cumin and paprika, and with a lovely freshness from lots of herbs. It feels both healthy and filling at the same time, which it is, and is definitely something we are going to be enjoying again soon. I hope you’ll give it a try too.
- 1 large or 2 small onions
- 2 red peppers
- 3tbsp olive oil
- 2-3 cloves of garlic, crushed
- 2tsp ground cumin
- 2tsp ground paprika
- 2tbsp chopped fresh parsley leaves
- 4tbsp chopped fresh cilantro leaves, divided
- 1tsp dried or 2tsp fresh thyme (fresh leaves removed from stem and chopped)
- 12oz ground beef (lean, eg 90% is best)
- 1 x 28oz can or carton of chopped tomatoes
- 4 eggs
- 2oz feta cheese
- Peel and slice the onions in half or quarter rings, depending on size. Core the peppers and cut in slices.
- Heat the oil in a large shallow pan or skillet and add the onions. Cook for 2-3minutes until they start to soften. Add the peppers and cook, stirring now and then, for another 5minutes.
- Add the garlic, cumin, paprika, parsley, 2tbsp cilantro and thyme and stir. Cook for another couple minutes until starting to brown slightly.
- Add the ground beef and brown the meat, then add the tomatoes. Cook for around 15-20minutes to allow the flavors to mingle. Up to this point can be made in advance and chilled or frozen.
- When ready to serve, re-heat the sauce if needed then gently push four indentations in the sauce with the back of a serving spoon and crack an egg into each one. Chop up the feta into small chunks and sprinkle over the top. Cover the pan with a lid and allow the eggs to cook in the sauce for around 5 minutes, basting the whites with the sauce part-way if needed. Ideally you want the whites just cooked and the yolks still a little soft so they will mingle with the sauce when you serve up.
- When the eggs are ready, sprinkle the remaining cilantro over the top and serve with bread on the side to mop up the sauces.