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Shakshouka with five cooked eggs on top of tomato sauce in cast iron skillet

Shakshouka or shakshuka (Arabic: شكشوكة‎‎) is a dish of eggs poached in a sauce of tomatoes, chili peppers, and onions, often spiced with cumin. In its present egg and vegetable-based form it is of Tunisian origin,[1] and is now popular among many ethnic groups of the Middle East and North-Africa.



Shakshouka means "a mixture" in Egyptian Arabic, Tunisian Arabic and Libyan Arabic.[2] Some believe that it was first known as chakchouka, a Berber word meaning a vegetable ragout,[2] Another belief is that it hails from the Yemen where it is served with a dollop of zhoug, a fiery, green paste that brings tears to the eyes.


Individual portion of shakshouka
Tunisian Shakshouka served in a pan

Shakshouka is a staple of Libyan, Egyptian, Tunisian, Algerian, Moroccan, cuisines, traditionally served in a cast iron pan or tajine as in Morocco with bread to mop up the sauce. It is also popular in Israel,[3] where it was introduced by Libyan Jews and Tunisian Jews, tens of thousands of whom immigrated to Israel during the 1950s.[4]

According to food writer Claudia Roden, Tunisian cooks added artichoke hearts, potatoes and broad beans to the dish. Because eggs are the main ingredient, it is often on breakfast menus, but in Israel, it is also a popular evening meal,[5] and may challenge hummus and falafel as a national favourite, especially in the winter.[2] According to some food historians, the dish was invented in the Ottoman Empire, spreading throughout the Middle East and Spain, where it is often served with spicy sausage. Another belief is that it hails from Yemen, where it is served with Sahawiq, a hot green paste.[2] Some versions include salty cheeses[5] but traditional recipes are very basic, consisting merely of crushed tomatoes, hot peppers, garlic, salt, paprika, olive oil and poached eggs.[6]

Similar dishesEdit

Shakshouka is similar to the Turkish dish menemen. Turkish cuisine has another dish with a similar name, spelled şakşuka, which is more like a ratatouille. Shakshouka is also similar to Spanish pisto manchego, a traditional La Mancha dish from southeast Spain, sometimes also accompanied by a fried egg. Shakshouka is also similar to the traditional Neapolitan dish Ova ‘mpriatorio, also known as Uova in Purgatorio, or Eggs In Purgatory, in Italian. Eggs In Purgatory is thought to come from the tradition of pizza makers, or Pizzaiolas, cooking for themselves; it is a pan of tomato-based pizza sauce with eggs cracked into it, and sometimes topped with dry pepper flakes, Parmesan cheese, and/or mozzarella cheese.


  1. ^ Roden, Claudia (2000). The New Book of Middle Eastern Food - Revised Edition. Knopf. p. 168. ISBN 0-375-40506-2. 
  2. ^ a b c d Josephs, Bernard (October 8, 2009). "Shakshuka: Israel’s hottest breakfast dish". The Jewish Chronicle. 
  3. ^ Holy Grill food truck is a taste of Israel in downtown LA
  4. ^ Gur, Janna (2008). The Book of New Israeli Food: A Culinary Journey. Schocken. pp. 80–82. ISBN 0-8052-1224-8. 
  5. ^ a b Clifford-smith, Stephanie (June 7, 2011). "Three of a kind: Shakshouka". Sydney Morning Herald. Archived from the original on 2011-08-27. 
  6. ^ Abitbol, David (October 28, 2004). "The REAL Shakshuka". Jewlicious.