Poach your eggs in spicy style for a scrummy vegetarian supper

Serves: 4
Preparation time: 30 minutes
Cooking time: 40 minutes

From Encyclopedia of Vegetarian Cuisine by Estérelle Payany (Flammarion, 2016). Photography © Nathalie Carnet.


1 onion (5–7 oz./150–200 g)
1 clove garlic
3 red bell peppers (about 1 lb./500 g)
3 green bell peppers (about 1 lb./500 g)
6 ripe tomatoes (about 1 ¾ lb./800 g)
1 ½ teaspoons cumin seeds
¼ cup (60 ml) olive oil
2 teaspoons brown sugar
1 bay leaf
2 sprigs thyme
1 teaspoon paprika
½ teaspoon harissa pepper paste
4–8 organic eggs
8–10 sprigs flat-leaf parsley


1Peel and finely dice the onion. Peel and crush the garlic clove. Remove the seeds from the bell peppers and cut them into slices. Cut each slice into three pieces. Remove the bases of the tomatoes and cut them into chunks.

2In a large skillet over medium-high heat, roast the cumin seeds briefly until fragrant. Pour in the olive oil, increase the heat to high, and lightly brown the garlic and onion for 2 minutes.

3Add the bell peppers, sugar, bay leaf, and thyme and season lightly with salt. Sauté for 5 minutes, then add the tomatoes, paprika, and harissa.

4Cover with the lid, reduce the heat to low, and simmer for 30 minutes. If the tomatoes render very little liquid, add a little water to prevent the shakshuka from sticking to the skillet.

5With the back of a spoon, make four small hollows evenly over the shakshuka. Depending on the guests’ appetite, break 1 or 2 eggs into each hollow. Allow to cook gently for about 8 minutes, until the white has set but the yolk is still runny.

6Season with salt and pepper, garnish with a few leaves of parsley, and serve with fresh bread.


  • If you do not have harissa, simply use cayenne pepper to taste.
  • When tomatoes are not in season, it is preferable to use chopped, preserved tomatoes.
  • Some cooks like to add a pinch of cinnamon to the spices; others prefer cilantro to parsley—it’s all a question of taste and what is available at the market.
  • Individual shakshukas can also be made in a small skillet.


  • This dish rich in bell peppers and spices, which comes to us from Tunisia, is very similar to the menemen found in Turkey, where the eggs are scrambled, and Mexican huevos rancheros, traditionally eaten for breakfast.

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