I knew it as huevos rancheros, growing up. But since living in Israel, I call it shakshoukah, the name everybody knows for this well-loved, homely dish.
Sometimes you just need eggs for breakfast. I was hungry for eggs and vegetables and a tomato sauce. Sound logical? Well, this is Israel after all, where nobody raises an eyebrow at sturdy dishes that scream “Flavor!” at breakfast. My first shakshoukah recipe was based on some tomato sauce I had in the fridge. This shakshoukah one is more traditional, with the aroma of cumin topping tomatoes and bell peppers. And chili.
The shakshoukahs you buy in little local eateries are saucier than this one. But if you like plenty of sauce, you can add a couple of tablespoons of tomato paste and a little more water to make it mop-upable with bread.
Because you always serve lots of bread with shakshoukah. Local eateries serve sliced white bread on the side, or white challah. Something to really soak up the sauce. I had pita in the house, so that’s what I ate. It was still pretty darn good.
1 teaspoon ground cumin
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 medium yellow onions, peeled and sliced thinly
2 bell peppers of different colors (red and yellow are especially attractive), seeded and sliced into eighths
4 ripe tomatoes, not peeled and roughly cut into chunks
2 cloves garlic, chopped roughly
1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
Freshly-ground black pepper to taste
1 small, de-seeded red chili, finely chopped – or 1/2 teaspoon cayenne flakes
1/4 – 1/2 cup water, as needed
4 large eggs
A handful of chopped coriander, parsley, or spring onions, for garnish
Keep each prepared vegetable in a separate bowl.
Put the ground cumin into a large skillet and let it heat through for a few seconds or until the aroma rises. Add the olive oil to the skillet.
Add the onions and sauté for two minutes, till they wilt. Add the sliced peppers to the skillet and sauté another 5 minutes, or until they too are softened.
Add the chopped tomatoes, garlic, salt, pepper, and chopped chili or cayenne flakes. Cook over medium heat, stirring, for 15 minutes. Add water as needed to make prevent the vegetables from sticking. Do not add so much water as to make the sauce runny. It should be juicy but semi-solid.
With a spoon, gently push aside the vegetables in four places. Break one egg into each of these places. Cover the skillet with a lid, lower the heat, and cook a further 10 minutes or until the eggs are set to your liking.
Sprinkle the shakshuka with the chopped green herbs.
Serve 1 egg per person, with sauce.