|Alternative names||Shakshuka, chakchouka|
|Region or state||Maghreb|
|Main ingredients||Tomatoes, harissa, eggs, olive oil|
Shakshouka (Arabic: شكشوكة : šakšūkah, also spelled shakshuka or chakchouka) is a Maghrebi dish of eggs poached in a sauce of tomatoes, olive oil, peppers, onion, and garlic, commonly spiced with cumin, paprika and cayenne pepper. According to Joan Nathan, shakshouka originated in Ottoman North Africa in the mid-16th century after tomatoes were introduced to the region by Hernán Cortés as part of the Columbian exchange.
The word shakshouka (Arabic: شكشوكة) is a Maghrebi Arabic term for "a mixture". According to Mary Fitzgerald, the word is allegedly believed to come from the Berber languages, although most sources agree on the term's Arabic origin. In the western Maghreb, it is referred to as bīḍ w-maṭiša (بيض ومطيشة "egg and tomato").
The origin of the dish remains a matter of some controversy with competing claims of Algerian, Libyan, Moroccan, Tunisian, Egyptian, Turkish, and Yemeni origins. Tomatoes and peppers are notably New World ingredients that only became common ingredients in later centuries after the Columbian exchange.
North African Jewish immigrants brought the dish to Israel in the 1950s and 1960s, though it only became popular on menus in the 1990s.
Many variations of the basic sauce are possible, varying in spice and sweetness. Some cooks add preserved lemon, salty sheep milk cheeses, olives, harissa or a spicy sausage such as chorizo or merguez. Shakshouka is made with eggs, which are commonly poached but can also be scrambled, like in the Turkish menemen.
In Algeria, shakshouka is commonly eaten as a side dish, and there are countless variations of it, each with their own unique blend of ingredients. One such variation is Hmiss, which is often served alongside traditional Kesra bread. Hmiss typically includes grilled peppers, tomatoes, and garlic. In Tunisia, a similar dish called Slata meshouia is enjoyed, but it differs from Hmiss with the addition of onions, cumin and tuna.
Some variations of shakshouka can be made with lamb mince, toasted whole spices, yogurt and fresh herbs. Spices can include ground coriander, caraway, paprika, cumin and cayenne pepper. Tunisian cooks may add potatoes, broad beans, artichoke hearts or courgettes to the dish. The North African dish matbukha can be used as a base for shakshouka.
A shakhsouka made with a kosher version of Spam (called loof) was added to IDF army rations in the 1950s. Because eggs are the main ingredient, it often appears on breakfast menus in English-speaking countries, but in the Arab world as well as Israel, it is also a popular evening meal, and like hummus and falafel, is a Levantine regional favorite. On the side, pickled vegetables and North African sausage called merguez might be served, or simply bread, with mint tea.
In Jewish culture, a large batch of tomato stew is made for the Sabbath dinner and the leftovers used the following morning to make a breakfast shakshouka with eggs. In Andalusian cuisine, the dish is known as huevos a la flamenca; this version includes chorizo and serrano ham. in Italian cuisine, there is a version of this dish called uova in purgatorio (eggs in purgatory) that adds garlic, basil or parsley.
Shakshuka was born in Ottoman North Africa in the mid-sixteenth century