Moroccan shakshuka is a delicious North African breakfast of poached eggs in spicy tomato sauce. Make this recipe for an easy weekend brunch!
Eggs are a healthy and hearty meal at any time of the day, They’re quick and easy to cook, and the number of ways to prepare them is practically endless.
When you need a healthier egg dish that is sure to please everyone at the table, look no further than spicy eggs in tomato sauce, otherwise known as eggs in purgatory!
Although its origin is Tunisian, shakshuka is popular in the Maghreb nation of North Africa, as well as throughout the Middle East.
The dish features eggs poached in tomato sauce with a wonderful blend of warm spices. The spices in the dish can vary according to regional preferences, but the flavor profile is robust will most certainly get your blood flowing in the morning!
Ingredient Notes + Substitutions
- saffron threads- these tiny golden threads are the stamen of crocus flowers. Harvesting them is a painstaking process, one reason why saffron is the most expensive spice in the world. For a budget-friendly alternative, use ground saffron
- olive oil
- harissa paste
- tomato paste- Tomato paste sold in a tube rather than a can is my preference. The flavor is fresher and noticeably less metallic.
- ground cumin
- bell peppers- I prefer a combination of red, yellow and orange peppers, but you can use a single color of your choice
- minced garlic- Although you can use prepared minced garlic, I recommend mincing fresh cloves.
- fresh tomatoes- You can substitute fresh tomatoes with cans of regular or fire roasted diced, or crushed tomatoes are fine as well.
- 8 large eggs- 4 whole, 4 yolks only; refrigerate the whites for use in other recipes
- Labneh- This Greek yogurt cheese has the creamy texture of cream cheese, with the tang of yogurt. You may substitute any thick Greek yogurt, or softened cream cheese. Feta cheese crumbles are another wonderful option.
Recipe Video + Instructions
If you've never poached eggs before, don't worry; it isn't too difficult. To see the process from start to finish, watch the video located in recipe card at the bottom of this post.
- Bloom the saffron threads.
To release the color and flavor of saffron requires blooming it in water. Saffron threads are extremely fragile, so it's important that the water not be too hot.
Instead of my go-to warm water soak, here is a trick I learned I thought I'd share. Place an ice cube into a bowl and sprinkle the crushed saffron over it. Then, set the bowl aside and allow the saffron to bloom. Using this method, it will take about 20 minutes for the saffron to bloom.
- Cook the vegetables.
Start preparing the sauce by cooking the harissa and tomato paste in a skillet for a few minutes. Then add the onion, bell peppers and tomatoes and seasonings for about 10 minutes.
- Poach the eggs.
When the sauce thickens, use the back of a spoon to create 8 shallow wells in the tomato sauce. Then, add whole eggs to four of the wells and egg yolks to the remaining four wells.
Cover the skillet with a lid and allow the eggs to poach in the tomato sauce. While the eggs poach, prepare any toppings, such as chopped parsley, cilantro, and/or feta crumbles.
- Garnish and serve.
Use a large spoon to plate some of the Moroccan shakshuka in tomato sauce onto serving plates. Serve with feta cheese crumbles, remaining cilantro/parsley mix and labneh smeared on crusty bread or pita on the side.
What to Serve with Moroccan Shakshuka
Serving options can vary depending on what meal of the day you plan to serve it for.
- BREAKFAST- Pair the dish with slices of pita bread, crusty bread, or naan.
- BRUNCH / LUNCH- Keep things light and fresh by serving the eggs along with some fruit salad, polenta, or roasted potatoes.
- DINNER- Serve with a green salad or chopped veggie salad for a delicious, hearty vegetarian meal!
Moroccan Shakshuka + Video
- ½ tsp saffron threads crushed
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 2 tbsp harissa paste
- 1 tbsp tomato paste
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 1 large yellow onion diced
- 2 large red bell pepper ¾ inch strips
- 1 large yellow/orange bell pepper ¾ inch strips
- 4 garlic cloves minced
- ½ tsp salt
- 5 large tomatoes chopped (See Note 1)
- 8 large eggs 4 whole, 4 yolks only - save whites for other recipe
- 2 tbsp cilantro chopped
- 2 tbsp parsley chopped
- In a small bowl add an ice cube and sprinkle the crushed saffron on top. Allow ice cube to melt and set aside as saffron blooms (See Note 3).
- Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat and add the harissa and tomato pastes, cumin and cook for 1 minute. Add the onion, bell peppers, garlic and salt. Cook, stirring often, until the onions are tender and turning translucent, about 8 minutes.
- Add the diced tomatoes with their juices and the saffron/water. Stir, and turn heat to simmer and cook uncovered for 10 minutes until sauce has thickened. Season with more salt if necessary.
- Use the back of a spoon and make 8 dips in the sauce. Crack 4 whole eggs into every other dip and add a yolk to the other 4 open dips in the sauce. Sprinkle with half of the chopped cilantro/parsley mix and cover with lid. Simmer gently for 10 minutes, or until the eggs are just set.
- Remove lid and carefully scoop 2 eggs each with tomato mixture into bowls.
- Optional Toppings: feta cheese crumbles, remaining cilantro/parsley mix and labneh smeared on crusty bread or pita on the side.
- You can substitute 5 cups/800 g canned for the fresh tomatoes, so a 28 oz can of fire roasted or regular diced and or crushed is fine.
- You may substitute any thick Greek yogurt, or softened cream cheese for the labneh. Feta cheese crumbles are another wonderful cheese to sprinkle on top as well.
- A trick I thought to share from Unicorns in the Kitchen. Often times too hot a water is used to bloom the saffron, in turn burning the delicate saffron threads. This does take about 20 minutes or just grind the saffron and use a warm water, not at a hot temperature to soak.
*The information shown below is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist's advice.