Chachouka is a North African tomato and pepper stew with eggs. I’ve read that it’s also popular in homes throughout Israel, where it is known as Shakshuka. I’ve seen it pop up on some of my favorite food blogs over the years but I didn’t get around to trying it myself until very recently. I’ve no idea why I waited so long: I keep chickens so I always have eggs, and it’s so very easy to make.
This particular Chachouka recipe comes from a stunning new vegetarian cookbook called River Cottage Veg: 200 Inspired Vegetable Recipes. I received a review copy from Ten Speed Press and I’ve been cooking from it quite a bit lately: I made the Potatoes Dauphinoise (page 60) the other night and my family went crazy for them.
I recommend cooking your Chachouka in cast-iron skillet. That way, you can easily transfer it from the stovetop to the oven. (Don’t have a cast-iron skillet? You need one! I’ve had mine for a long time, but it is similar to this one.) Chachouka makes a great brunch, lunch (or light dinner) for 2 people (or maybe 4, if you serve it with a hearty salad, chunks of sourdough bread, etc). Cold leftovers are also quite tasty for breakfast.
More recently-released vegetarian cookbooks I love:
Tender: A Cook and His Vegetable Patch
Vegetable Literacy: Cooking and Gardening with Twelve Families from the Edible Plant Kingdom, with over 300 Deliciously Simple Recipes
Mr. Wilkinson’s Vegetables: A Cookbook to Celebrate the Garden
Recipe for Chachouka
- *3 tablespoons olive oil
- *1 teaspoon cumin seeds
- *1 large onion halved and thinly sliced
- *1 clove garlic crushed
- *1 red bell pepper cored, seeded, and thinly sliced
- *1 yellow bell pepper cored, seeded, and thinly sliced
- *½ teaspoon hot smoked paprika
- *A pinch of saffron strands
- *1 14-ounce/400g can plum tomatoes (I used an equivalent amount of frozen roasted tomatoes from my garden last summer instead)
- *Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- *4 large eggs preferably farm-fresh, pastured eggs
- *Crumbled feta cheese for serving (optional...this was my addition to the recipe)
- 1. Heat the olive oil in a large, preferably ovenproof, frying pan over a medium heat. Add the cumin seeds and let them fry gently for a couple of minutes. Add the onion and cook gently for 8–10 minutes, or until soft and golden.
- 2. Add the garlic and peppers and continue to cook over a low heat for at least 20 minutes, stirring often, until the peppers are soft and wilted. Add the paprika, crumble in the saffron, then add the tomatoes with their juice and some salt and pepper. Cook gently, stirring from time to time, for 10–15 minutes. Preheat the oven to 350°F/180°C.
- 3. Taste the mixture and adjust the seasoning if necessary. If your frying pan isn’t ovenproof, transfer the mixture to a baking dish. Make 4 hollows in the surface and carefully break an egg into each one. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake for 10–12 minutes, until the egg white is set and the yolk still runny. (I garnished mine with a bit of crumbled feta, which I strongly recommend.)