Shakshuka dates back to the beginning of the 16th century and is still popular to this day. You’ll find it served in virtually every restaurant and home across Israel. To make this dish, eggs are poached in a sauce of tomatoes, olive oil, peppers, onion, garlic, and spiced with a shakshuka blend.
“People in Israel usually eat it with a thick white bread — the idea is that you use the bread to mop up any remaining sauce. If you make it in a cast iron pan, some of the tomatoes caramelize a bit and you get these delicious burnt bits on the bottom of the pan, which you use the bread to absorb. It’s pretty amazing,” Itai Schimmel shared with me a while back. “Typically the dish might be accompanied by a small Israeli salad (cucumbers, tomatoes, onions, olive oil, lemon juice) too. And of course, some coffee!”
Itai is one of the founders of Artza – a quarterly subscription box featuring curated artisanal products from across Israel, aimed at bringing unique pieces of The Holy Land right to your doorstep. Itai is also known as a master Shakshuka maker, and according to his friends, family and even business partners, makes one of the best shakshuka in Tel Aviv.
“There is no surer sign that the weekend is here than making Shakshuka! On weekends here in Israel, cafes and restaurants will be packed with people ordering shakshuka to start their morning and weekend off right, usually surrounded by friends and family. It’s traditionally served in the skillet it was cooked in, so you have to be careful of the hot pan! The dish is really meant to be shared with the people around the table, and one of the reasons I think it’s so special is that it is a food that brings people together.”
It takes between 30 to 40 min to prepare shakshuka and everyone has their own slightly different variation on the recipe. It’s versatile and customizable. “You can add different things — some people like it with feta cheese, some with little sausages, some with fried eggplant (though most people don’t mix cheese and sausage due to Kosher restrictions around eating meat and milk together).”
For this shakshuka recipe we used a Shakshuka Spice Blend from The Spice Road Farm. This Israel-based farm still follows the traditional ways of growing, preserving, and blending herbs and spices. The blend has no coloring and no preservatives added; it’s very fragrant and flavorful. The Shakshuka Spice Blend from the Spice Road Farm is featured in the current Artza box, read an unsponsored review of the box here. Alternatively you can DIY the shakshuka spice blend yourself or check out an international store or deli near you that offers Mediterranean foods and spices.
Shakshuka Step-by-Step Recipe
Makes 4 servings
You will need
2 tbsp olive oil
1 chopped onion
2 seeded and chopped bell peppers
5 crushed garlic cloves
2 tbsp shakshuka spice mix
1 (28 ounces) can or fresh tomatoes (3-4 plum tomatoes)
A pinch of sweet paprika
A pinch of salt
A pinch of pepper
2 tbsp chopped parsley (optional)
3 tbsp feta cheese (optional)
In a large deep skillet, heat oil over medium high heat.
Add the onion and bell pepper and cook for about 7 min or until softened and beginning to brown.
Add the garlic and cook until tender, 1-2 min. Now, stir in salt, paprika, and pepper, and let it cook for just 1 min.
Add the tomatoes and shakshuka spice mix, mix everything together and leave to simmer on low heat for 10 -15 minutes (add water as necessary to keep the mixture and prevent it from burning).
Crack eggs evenly on top of the sauce for 7-10 min or until whites are set and yolks are firm. Sprinkle with parsley and feta cheese.
Serve with warm bread.
B’teavon (‘enjoy’ in Hebrew)!