This North African chakchouka recipe makes poached eggs in a spicy tomato sauce. While it’s thought that chakchouka – also written as shakshuka, choukchouka and tchoutchouka – comes from Tunisia, chakchouka is found right across North Africa and the Middle East. We’ve eaten it everywhere from Morocco to the Levant countries of Lebanon, Syria and Jordan during our years in the Middle East.
After I had gained the confidence of Jamila, the cook and manager of our riad in Marrakech, after cooking her this chakchouka, Jamila described several chakchouka recipes, saying how she’d do the dish differently. Jamila is a woman of strong convictions.
For this edition of Weekend Eggs, I was going to attempt a different poached egg dish with a spicy tomato sauce that was a modified version of a street food breakfast dish we tried, however, then I realised that this was my chance while we’re in Morocco to cook chakchouka, so here we are.
North African Chakchouka Recipe for Poached Eggs in a Spicy Tomato Sauce
This chakchouka recipe makes the spicy egg and tomato dish found that’s found here in Morocco and right across North Africa and the Levant, although it’s said to have originated in Tunisia, where we sadly won’t be visiting this year on our 12-month global grand tour.
So while not native to Morocco, versions of chakchouka can be found here. And when I say versions, it appears everyone here in Morocco has a different ingredient list, so this is my take on this classic North African breakfast dish.
For this chakchouka recipe we bought all our ingredients along the atmospheric market street of Rue Bab Doukkala just around the corner from our Marrakech riad. This is where the locals do their food shopping, picking up a bit of this here and a bit of that there. This ain’t one-stop shopping!
We bought everything we needed within 500 metres from our riad from about four shops. It was great fun! Although we may have paid a ‘tourist tax’ at one grocery store, it was all super cheap.
Tips to Making this North African Chakchouka Recipe
I only have a few tips to making this North African chakchouka recipe as it’s super easy and comes together quickly.
My version of chakchouka is best made in a cast iron skillet. No question.
Harissa is essential as far as I’m concerned, but if you find the North African condiment too spicy, leave it out and sprinkle in a teaspoon of ground paprika instead.
Keen observers may have noted that there are some sausage pieces in the chakchouka. On our morning shopping expedition we spotted a vendor with some freshly-made spicy lamb merguez sausages. I could not resist throwing some slices in. Feel free to do the same. Sorry, vegetarians.
North African Chakchouka Recipe
- 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1 red onion - sliced finely
- 3 cloves garlic - sliced finely
- 2 capsicums - medium-sized, ‘roughly’ julienned
- 1 red chili - deseeded and finely chopped
- 4 tomato - large, roughly chopped into small squares
- 4 eggs - large
- 2 tbsp of harissa - North African spicy sauce
- salt - to taste
- tsp cumin - ground
- 2 tbsp tomato paste
- Sauté the onions in olive oil for a few minutes until translucent. Add the garlic, capsicum, chili and cook out for 10 minutes. The capsicum should be getting soft by this stage.
- Add the tomatoes, tomato paste, cumin, a pinch of salt and the harissa – those concerned about the ‘heat’ level of harissa, just add one tablespoon.
- Simmer for another 10 minutes. By this stage everyone should be salivating. If they’re not, you’ve done something wrong or are cooking for the wrong crowd. You can add some more oil or even water if things get a little too dry.
- Make four evenly spaced indentations in the sauce – this is where the eggs will cook. Break the eggs individually into cups and slide the eggs into the indentations in the sauce. The reason for breaking them into the cups becomes obvious after you’ve made one where you’ve ended up with eggshell or a broken yolk in your dish!
- Cover and cook over medium-high heat until the eggs are just set — anything from 5 to 7 minutes.
- The eggs should now be easy to get out of the pan with a large serving spoon as the egg white will have cooked around the egg. The eggs should be runny and the yolk should mix with the sauce for best effect. Those who like their egg yolks hard are really missing out!
- Have some good crusty bread on hand to mop up the sauce — it’s delicious.
Published 25 February 2010; Last Updated 20 February 2024.