It was late June and one of those perfect Israeli Summer days, with clear blue skies. My friend Judy and I were strolling through the old and beautifully restored Sarona Market. The old stone buildings built by the German Templars in the late 19th century and early 20th century were bathed in a gorgeous golden sunlight.
We sat down at Cafe Biga, we ordered a cool limonana and we reminisced. About meeting in second grade at Beverly Vista Elementary School. About how lucky we were to have our special group of friends that stayed close through Middle School and graduation from Beverly Hills High.
About how I met my Sephardic Spice Girl writing partner, Sharon at her Casablanca themed Sweet 16 birthday party. About her brave decision to make Aliyah after graduating from Harvard University. About our husbands and our children.
When I scanned the menu, I noticed that there were listed at least a dozen different types of Shakshuka. Shakshuka with eggplant. With mushrooms. With spinach. With goat cheese.
We ordered “Shakshuka Beiti,” (beiti means home). It’s the classic version with the eggs nestled in a deeply fragrant red sauce made with sautéed onions, fresh tomatoes and red peppers, tomato paste and a generous dollop of spicy Harissa sauce. The Shakshuka came in a battered tin dish, with a side of chopped salad and a hunk of crusty bread. We ate the eggs with their slightly runny yolks and then we swiped our bread into the sauce, wiping those little bowls clean of every trace of delicious sauce.
That Shakshuka brought me back to the many times my mother had made Shakshuka whenever she needed to serve us a quick, easy meal. She would warm generous amounts of her homemade matboucha in a large frying pan, then she would carefully place the eggs in the sauce.
Shakshuka is that perfect dish—nutritious, foolproof and simply delicious!
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 purple onion, finely sliced
1 red pepper, seeded and sliced
3 plum or Roma tomatoes, diced
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 teaspoons paprika
2 teaspoons turmeric
1/4 teaspoon red chili flakes
6 tablespoons tomato paste
1/2 cup water
6 large eggs
Salt and pepper, to taste
Chopped fresh Italian parsley and cilantro, optional
Heat olive oil over medium heat in a large sauté pan.
Add the chopped onion and sauté for 3 minutes.
Add red peppers and continue sautéing until the onion becomes translucent.
Add chopped tomatoes, garlic and spices and cook for an additional two minutes.
Stir in tomato paste and water until the ingredients are mixed.
When the sauce is a smooth consistency, make small wells in the sauce and crack the the eggs into each well.
Cover the pan and cook for 5-7 minutes, until eggs are done to your taste.
Garnish with fresh herbs, if desired.
Serve with fresh bread or pita.
Rachel Sheff and Sharon Gomperts have been friends since high school. They love cooking and sharing recipes. They have collaborated on Sephardic Educational Center projects and community cooking classes. Follow them on Instagram @sephardicspicegirls and on Facebook at Sephardic Spice SEC Food.