An improvisational comfort food originating in North Africa, there are as many shakshuka recipes as there are cooks. I’d read three or four before settling on the one that I made, but feel free to wing it. Adding olives or feta is commonplace, as is saffron, if you’re feeling wealthy.
- 1 tsp whole cumin seeds
- 1 tsp smoked paprika
- 2 tbsp high-smoke-point oil, like safflower
- 2 onions, diced
- 1 yellow bell pepper, thinly sliced
- 2 fresh moderately hot peppers: Anaheim, cayenne, or jalapeno, diced.
- 1 tsp thyme
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 28 oz. can of whole, peeled tomatoes (or 6 to 8 fresh paste tomatoes, if you can find them)
- 1 tsp light brown sugar
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 4 eggs
In a large, lidded pan, heat the oil over moderate heat and add the cumin and paprika and cook until fragrant. Turn the heat to high, add the onion and saute until soft and slightly charred, add the peppers and continue to cook until the peppers are slightly soft and the onion is very tender. Add the thyme, bay, tomato, and sugar, reduce the heat, stir well and simmer, breaking the tomatoes down, until you have a thick-ish sauce. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Make four wells in the sauce, crack an egg into each, lower the heat to low, cover the pan and poach the eggs in the sauce, until the whites are just set and the yolks are soft, roughly 10 minutes. Serve in bowls with pita to mop up the sauce.