The first time I made shakshuka was by accident. My now-fiancé was coming over for dinner, and I was short on time. I wouldn’t have the chance to make a last-minute trip to the grocery store or plan out a menu. I looked at what I had in the pantry—canned tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, bread—and what I had in the fridge—eggs—and took to Google looking for how I could combine these simple ingredients. A New York Times article on shakshuka popped up, and I was set.
When my fiancé arrived and I told him what I was making, he said, “That’s one of my favorite Israeli dishes! There’s this place [in Israel] called Dr. Shakshuka that’s amazing!”
While I hit the nail on the head with my recipe selection, my first attempt was just slightly less than successful. I overcooked the eggs…and I forgot that the handle on a skillet is only heat resistant when it’s on top of the oven, not in it.
After my skillet injuries had long healed, I decided that mastering shakshuka was high on my list of goals in the kitchen. The dish had everything I loved in a meal: sauce, cheese (if you feel like adding it), eggs, bread. I just needed to learn that fine balance of perfectly runny eggs.
Over the years, I’ve done just that. There’s no better comfort food than a warm skillet of tomato and egg yolk paired with a crusty bread. But once we master a traditional recipe, isn’t the natural next step to mix it up?
For this take on shakshuka, I decided to do a culinary mashup of the Israeli recipe with classic Mexican flavors. With my recent conversion to Judaism and my Mexican heritage, this seemed like a fitting tribute to my past and present. The ingredients in shakshuka easily merge with Mexican seasonings—the base of the recipe remains exactly the same, with tomatoes, peppers and onion all making an appearance in the traditional version and in many Mexican favorites.
I also added ground turkey to the recipe and went with diced tomatoes rather than tomato sauce to give the dish some weight. I wanted this to be a dish that could be eaten on its own, without bread, to keep it low-carb.
And after some practice, now every time I make Mexican shakshuka for dinner (or holidays or weekend brunches with friends, let’s be honest), the eggs are perfectly runny.