Shakshouka is the ultimate comfort food. It is indulgent, filling and satisfying all in one!

It is uncertain where the dish originated; some food historians argue it was Yemen while others claim it was borne out of the Ottoman Empire.

A hearty, affordable dish it is a family favourite, especially as it only needs one pan.

Shakshouka is traditionally made up of eggs cooked in tomato sauce and peppers, sometimes with herbs, cheese and other flavours, and often with bread meant for dipping.

The dish, with a name meaning ‘all mixed up’ in the Tunisian Arabic dialect, is perfect for experimenting. You really can’t go wrong!

My go-to recipe is at downshiftology.com as it’s super simple, only involves one pan and needs pretty standard ingredients.

In basic terms, you cook a diced onion, a sliced pepper and four garlic cloves until aromatic and soft; then add in the spices (cumin, paprika, chilli powder). Next, pour in a can of crushed tomatoes, season, and bring to a simmer; and finally, making small wells in the sauce, crack six eggs into your mix and cook to your liking.

Here are five ways you can spice up the dish:

  • Cheese! My favourite addition is cubes of feta stirred into the sauce before the eggs and then crumbled on top. Another option is frying up some halloumi in crispy sticks that you can dip into the tomato sauce.
  • Make it vegan… Swap out the eggs and feta for aubergine (add it in with the pepper), tofu and peas; stir in frozen peas and tofu seasoned with salt, pepper and cumin when you would’ve introduced the eggs. Cook until the tofu is heated, and peas have defrosted, then serve with toasted bread.
  • Go green! This puts a healthy spin on the original recipe, packing it with micronutrients. Instead of pepper, add in shaved brussels sprouts and chopped courgette, and then baby spinach after 4-5 minutes. Crack in your eggs and garnish with fresh cilantro and sliced avocado.
  • Hot hot hot! A sure-fire way to make this dish interesting is to increase the spice intake; you can do this with adding more paprika or chilli powder, or if you’re feeling brave add in freshly chopped green or red chillies. Be prepared with some yogurt or rice for this one!
  • Ultimate comfort… for this we’re adding in extra carbs for good measure. Either replace or supplement the pepper with rice or potatoes (or both!) adding them in at the same time as the seasonings. Heat up some garlic bread and you’re ready to go!

Images by Tara Mewawalla