One of the most iconic dishes that has come out of the state of Israel is shakshuka, a brunch-perfect egg dish made popular by Dr. Shakshuka, a Libyan restaurant in Jaffa that is frequented by American tourists.
This North African dish, meaning “all mixed up” in both Arabic and Hebrew, was born in Ottoman North Africa in the mid-16th century after Hernan Cortes, who first encountered tomatoes in Mexico in 1519, introduced them to the Old World. Arriving at the port of Naples, the seeds were planted in Sicily and North Africa and spread around the Mediterranean.
Shakshuka wasn’t always a breakfast dish, as it is served today. According to many friends from North Africa, this dish was often made when women were “busy” (often with a lover), and then made a quick meal with tomatoes and eggs for their husband. Thus the onomatopoeic word “shakshuka.” It is easy and a great brunch dish, one I often make for friends ... not lovers!
Joan Nathan is Tablet Magazine’s food columnist and the author of 10 cookbooks including King Solomon’s Table: a Culinary Exploration of Jewish Cooking from Around the World.