Vidar Bergum is a food writer and cookbook author based in Istanbul, Turkey.

Shakshuka is, in a broad interpretation, popular throughout much of north Africa. It’s commonly thought to have originated in Libya or Tunisia, though various accounts exist with some claiming its origin is Yemenite or even Ottoman.

Whatever the origin, Israelis and the Jewish diaspora can probably take much of the credit for the dish’s trendy turn throughout much of the west in the last decade or so.

With a simple dish such as shakshuka, the possibilities are endless. I prefer mine simple. The key is, like virtually all cooked tomato based sauces, to leave the tomatoes to cook for long enough for the flavour to really develop.

If you like, throw in some of your favourite spices, cheese or even sausage.

I usually make the sauce the night before. That way, all I need to do in the morning is to reheat the sauce, crack in the eggs and enjoy…

Photo: Bahar Kitapci

Huge meze spread seen from above
Photo: Bahar Kitapci
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Serves 3-6, depending on what else is on offer.

Shakshuka seen from above

Shakshuka

Yield: 3-6 portions

Ingredients

  • 3 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, halved and thinly sliced
  • 2 romano peppers or 1 red bell pepper, cored, deseeded and cut into long strips
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1/2 fresh chilli, finely chopped (optional)
  • 1 Tbsp tomato paste (optional – only needed if your tomatoes aren't amazing)
  • 800 g chopped tomatoes (fresh, if in season, or tinned)
  • 6 fresh eggs
  • flat-leaf parsley, to garnish
  • Aleppo pepper (pul biber) or other chilli flakes, to garnish
  • salt and pepper

Instructions

  1. Heat a large, thick bottomed pan with high sides over medium heat. Fry the onion and peppers in the olive oil until the vegetables are softened but not coloured, 10-15 minutes, stirring regularly to ensure they don't colour.
  2. Add the garlic, chilli (if using) and tomato paste (if using). Stir constantly until it smells fragrantly of garlic but the garlic, about a minute. Stir constantly and make sure the garlic doesn't colour.
  3. Add tomatoes and season with salt and pepper. Stir well, bring to a boil, reduce the heat to low and leave to simmer, covered, until the sauce is thick and delicious, at least 15 minutes, preferably half an hour or more. You can make ahead until this point and store for up to two days in the fridge before reheating and continuing, adding a splash of water if the sauce has become too thick.
  4. Make six dents in the shakshukah and break the eggs in. Put the lid back on and continue to simmer on low/medium heat until the eggs are as you like them. I prefer a runny yolk, with the whites just cooked – that takes 4-5 minues. Serve immediately topped with a sprinkling of freshly chopped flat-leaf parsley and Aleppo pepper.

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Hey, there!

I’m Vidar. For the past few years, I’ve been exploring the foods of Turkey, the Middle East and beyond from my house in Balat, Istanbul. Let me show you around!

My books

I’ve published two books on Turkish and Middle Eastern food, available in Norwegian and German.

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Vidar Bergum on the front porch of his home, drinking tea, with a street cat eating something on the street in front of him
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No e-books or spam, just inspiring emails every fortnight or so.

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Vidar Bergum on the front porch of his home, drinking tea, with a street cat eating something on the street in front of him
Vidar Bergum drinking tea on front porch

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Vidar Bergum on the front porch of his home, drinking tea, with a street cat eating something on the street in front of him
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Get free recipes & stories from my kitchen in Istanbul.

No e-books or spam, just inspiring emails every fortnight or so.

Vidar Bergum on the front porch of his home, drinking tea, with a street cat eating something on the street in front of him