ShakshukaPhoto Credit : Kristin Teig
Shakshuka, an Israeli spin on huevos rancheros, is perfect for savory breakfast-lovers. We love the version at Sofra Bakery & Cafe in Boston, where the shakshuka is a pillowy dream of stewed tomatoes ramped up with hawaij, a currylike Yemeni spice blend, and zhoug, a coriander-spiked Syrian chili paste, topped with farm-fresh eggs poached right in the sauce.
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4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
4 teaspoons minced garlic (about 4 cloves)
3 cans (28 ounces each) whole tomatoes, seeded and chopped (don’t strain)
1-1-1/2 teaspoons dried Aleppo chili pepper (or 1/4-1/2 teaspoon cayenne)
1 tablespoon hawaij (see “Note,” above) (or curry powder)
1-2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
Kosher or sea salt
6 large eggs
6 slices grilled or toasted bread
6 teaspoons zhoug
Combine oil, garlic, tomatoes, chili pepper (or cayenne), and hawaij (or curry powder) in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. When mixture begins to bubble, reduce heat to low and simmer gently until tomatoes are soft and melted, about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally (don’t let mixture dry out).
In two or three batches, puree tomato mixture in a blender until very smooth. Season to taste with lemon juice and salt. (Sauce should have a smoky, spicy curry flavor.)
Heat oven to 400°. Transfer curried tomato sauce to a 9×13-inch baking pan, and bake until heated through, about 15 minutes.
Gently break 6 eggs on top of sauce (two rows of three), leaving enough space in between to keep whites from running together. Salt each egg lightly before returning pan to oven. Bake until whites are just barely set and yolks are very loose, about 20 minutes.
Remove from oven. Spoon eggs gently onto grilled bread, along with a generous amount of tomato sauce. Place a teaspoon of zhoug on top of each egg white and serve.
Note: The sauce may be prepared and refrigerated up to three days in advance. Authentic ingredients such as hawaij (a traditional Yemeni spice blend), Aleppo chili peppers, zhoug (Syrian chili paste), and Hungarian wax peppers are worth seeking out–Sofra sells them all at the bakery–but we’ve also provided substitutions, including Ana Sortun’s simple recipe for making zhoug from scratch.
6 ounces Hungarian wax peppers (or 4 ounces fresh jalapeno peppers), stemmed, seeded, and coarsely chopped
1 cup chopped cilantro leaves and stems
1/2 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley leaves and stems
2 garlic cloves
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1-1/2 teaspoons sherry vinegar
Kosher or sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Combine first 8 ingredients in a blender and puree until smooth. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
This zhoug recipe yields more paste than you’ll need for 6 servings of shakshuka. Use the extra sauce to kick up grilled chicken or fish or as a sandwich condiment stirred into mayonnaise, or enjoy it simply by itself.