There are 3 dishes in my life that the word “shakshouka” has been associated with since my childhood. And they all point to different parts of my life.
The first one is the egg dish with tomatoes and bell peppers that my mother used to make, which was always my favourite egg dish ever (sentimental values help as well, of course..). She called it “şakşuka” (shakshouka written in Turkish). It was a variation of Turkish dish “menemen”, which itself is a variation of shakshouka. So there was a combo of many ideas and variations in one mum dish.
The second one is the mezze dish that I first encountered in restaurants in Istanbul, which specialised in raki-mezze combos. That one was served warm or cold, and it was a fried eggplant dish mostly cooked with onions and peppers and served with garlicky tomato sauce. This is actually the general use of the name shakshouka (or “şakşuka”) in Turkish cuisine.
The third one is the one that is most generally known one and the recipe in this blogpost is a variation of this one. Shakshouka is basically eggs poached in tomato sauce that is cooked with onions, peppers and onions. There are many variations that add other ingredients in this basic recipe, such as beans, artichokes, mushrooms, or, as in my version, eggplants. The dish originates from Libya, Tunisia, Algeria and Morocco, however it is now also very popular particularly in Israel and in many other Middle Eastern countries.
For this recipe, I got the main inspiration from The Brick Kitchen blog. I used different spices and less other ingredients keeping the spices more on the front.
You can have a rich breakfast with shakshouka, for example on a weekend, but it is also great for dinner. Have some warm crusty baguette with it to get the best of the sauce or to simply dipped in the middle of poached eggs. Yummm… Enjoy!
Difficulty: ★★☆ (Medium)
1 eggplant, sliced and soaked in salty water for at least 15 minutes
1 tbsp olive oil to brush the eggplants
2 tbsp olive oil to cook the whole dish
1 large onion, diced
2-3 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp aleppo pepper (or red pepper flakes, and you can keep this out if you don’t want it too hot)
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/2 to 1 tsp salt (according to your taste – also remember that if you add feta in the end, feta might be too salty too..)
2 cans (400 gr. each) cherry tomatoes, together with juice
3 or 4 eggs (1 egg per person)
crumbled feta (you can also use mozzarella or goat cheese, according to your preferences)
coarsely chopped parsley
crusty, delicious bread
1. Preheat the oven to 180C.
2. Dry eggplant slices using paper towel. Put a baking paper on an oven tray. Brush both sides of each eggplant slice with olive oil, put them on baking paper and bake in the oven for 20 minutes.
3. Once eggplant slices are baked, take out of the oven and cut in smaller pieces (you can also keep them as they are, but I like bite-sized pieces).
4. In a big pan, heat 2 tbsp olive oil on medium high heat. Add onions and sauté for about a minute. Then add garlic and continue to sauté until onions are translucent.
5. Add eggplants and continue cooking by frequently stirring, for 2-3 minutes.
6. Add cumin, turmeric, aleppo pepper, black pepper and salt and continue cooking for one more minute.
7. Add canned tomatoes with juice and 1 cup (2.4 dl) lukewarm water and turn the heat to medium.
8. Simmer the dish together with tomato sauce for about 8 minutes, but do not let it get too dry (if it’s getting too dry, lower the heat or add just a bit more warm water and stir briefly. Remember that the sauce should not be too liquid but it should not dry out either.
9. Once the sauce is ready, add eggs. I first crack each egg in a small bowl and then gently put it on the sauce. It would be good to create little holes in the sauce for eggs. Once the eggs are on the sauce, cover the pan with a lid, and simmer the dish until eggs are cooked according to your wish (you might want to keep them very runny or a bit dry – I personally like to keep the eggs medium runny as you can see in the photos). Serve the cooked dish with crumbled feta (or other cheese you prefer) and chopped parsley. Enjoy!