Shakshuka is a North African dish that translates to “mixture” or “shaken.” Though the name might sound intimidating to beginner cooks, it’s a relatively simple dish that can be whipped up in as quickly as 30 minutes. Shakshuka is commonly a breakfast dish but can also be eaten as a hearty dinner. This meatless one-pan meal is the perfect accompaniment to a cold winter night and all of its ingredients can be found at your local grocery store. It consists of poached eggs in tomato sauce, topped off with tangy feta.
Here are five things to remember when you’re trying shakshuka out for yourself.
1 • Cooking is all about building up your flavors. By starting a recipe’s base off right, you’re setting yourself up for success. For shakshuka, it’s important to start off by cooking the onions until they appear translucent. This will allow them to cook at their own rate and not be swallowed up by the sauce. It’s also vital to season your dish as you go. This will help you develop the flavors along the way and control your salt levels.
2 • The spices are the star of this dish, so it’s important that you do them justice. Give them a minute or so to cook until they’re fragrant. Step back and let them do their job. This will let them toast lightly, so that you’ll get the full effect of their flavors. When your kitchen starts to fill with the smell of cumin and garlic, you’ve done it right.
3 • When adding in your tomato paste and crushed tomatoes, it’s crucial that you let them simmer for a while. If you’re in a rush, 15 minutes will be fine, but if you can make it ahead of time, the flavors will only get better. As with any dish, patience is key; and in this instance, the longer you wait, the better your sauce is going to taste.
4 • The liquids in this recipe require the correct ratios. Add too much and you’re going to have soup; add too little and you’ll burn it. You want to keep the ingredients wet without drowning them. In doing this, you’re ensuring that your sauce is going to turn out with the right consistency. It’s okay to eyeball the amount of liquid as long as you go a little bit at a time. You can always add more moisture, but can’t always take it out.
5 • When dealing with the eggs in this recipe, use a wooden spoon to make little wells for your eggs to go into. This will make sure that they cook evenly in place without leaking out all over your perfect sauce. I am an avid supporter of the runny yolk, so make sure to be gentle when cracking your egg. Here’s where patience plays in again. Put a lid on your pan and let the eggs cook. Don’t touch them. Everytime you take that lid off, you’re letting heat escape and slowing down the cooking process. To know if they’re done, use the fancy finger technique and lightly tap on them. When the yolk is slightly firm, but still has some give and the whites are completely set, you have an over-easy egg. If you like your egg more well-done, put the lid back on and check back in a minute. Trust your instincts.
Take the pan off the stove and pat yourself on the back. You just learned how to conquer shakshuka! For a step-by-step visual recipe, check out my video on how to make shakshuka.
-2 tablespoons olive oil
-1/2 a medium onion
-2 cloves garlic, minced
-1 teaspoon ground cumin
-1 teaspoon harissa (to taste)
-1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
-1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
-1 tablespoon tomato paste
-14-ounce can chopped tomatoes
-1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons Israeli couscous
-1/4 cup vegetable broth
-4 large eggs
-feta cheese, for serving