Middle Eastern food is having a moment, and one of the easiest dishes to try at home is a shakshuka. Otherwise known as a shakshouka this Berber omelet recipe is a spicy dish featuring eggs poached in a tasty sauce made of tomatoes, onions, spices and peppers.
Originating in the deserts of North Africa, this omelet recipe is served for both breakfast and dinner, often cooked up in a cast iron pan or tagine (earthenware pot with conical lid). Similar to the Mexican meal of huevos rancheros, shakshuka makes a regular appearance on menus in Morocco, Algeria, Libya, Tunisia and Egypt.
Berber is a term that comes from the Roman word for “barbarian” and today refers to a very large group of people from North Africa, living in a space that spans from the Atlantic Ocean to the Nile River. Now concentrated in Morocco and Algeria, this group is generally regarded as desert nomads and is comprised of numerous languages and ethnic groups. Berbers call themselves i-Mazigh-en: free people. Much of the population of North Africa is less Arabic and more Berber, particularly when you venture out from the cities.
After a long day of driving (camels or in a vehicle), a hot Berber omelet recipe is the perfect antidote to flat land fatigue. For an authentic Middle Eastern experience, cook your shakshuka in one main dish for sharing, and pair it with crusty bread or pita. Don’t forget the olives on the side!
This recipe is vegetarian and gluten-free.
2 tablespoons olive oil
½ yellow onion (medium size), peeled and chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 red or yellow bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 teaspoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon ground coriander
½ teaspoon ground paprika
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
1/8 teaspoon sugar (optional)
4 cups fresh tomatoes, peeled and chopped
Salt & pepper
Cilantro or flat-leaf parsley for garnish (chopped)
1. Heat your cast iron skillet, tagine or sauté pan on the stove top to medium heat. Add the olive oil to the pan, then add your chopped onions and sauté until the onions just begin to soften.
2. Add your minced garlic and sauté until the mixture becomes fragrant, another few minutes. Next, add the bell pepper and cook for 5 minutes.
3. Spices go next. Add the turmeric, cumin, coriander and paprika. Also add the cayenne and/or sugar if you prefer your dishes spicy and/or sweet. Mix well.
4. Now add the tomatoes and stir everything together.
5. Carefully crack each egg and add it to the pan, with one egg in the center of the sauce and five around the outside.
6. Cover your pan with a lid and reduce the heat. Let omelet to simmer for 10-15 minutes, or until the sauce is slightly reduced and the eggs are done to the consistency you prefer.
7. Salt and pepper your omelet, and garnish with chopped fresh cilantro or parsley. You can also drizzle the top with olive oil.
8. Serve with a side salad, bread and/or olives. Enjoy!
In a hurry? You can use 2 cans (14 ounces each) of diced canned tomatoes instead of fresh.
Add fresh cheese (such as feta or queso blanco) right before the eggs for a creamier dish.
You can also try other peppers instead of bell peppers, such as poblano, Thai chili peppers or jalapenos.
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