Where Did Shakshuka Really Come From?

Nowadays, there's no brunch without shakshuka. Generally, shakshuka is made of thick tomato sauce cooked along with eggs and other vegetables like onions and peppers, spices, and a pinch of garlic (via Culture Trip). In fact, the word "shakshuka" translates to "mixed up" or "shaken," based on its preparation (per Seasoned Pioneers). Some recipes feature meat, sausage, or eggplant, and some U.S. versions feature labneh and feta cheese, according to Slurrp.

Plus, it's simple to make shakshuka at home because it's quick and requires inexpensive ingredients. You can even do it with a jar of tomato sauce. Homemade or not, the best part of eating shakshuka is dipping a slice of bread, sourdough, or challah in that tomato and egg yolk pool. It's also a healthy dish, as it's a delicious way to add veggies to your morning.

But, although highly popular in the U.S. for its versatility, the origins of the dish are quite far away from North America. A variety of African countries make a version of it, but a Middle Eastern country was the first to feature it in restaurants. The history of where shakshuka comes from includes an interesting debate.

An Israeli favorite with North African roots

According to Slurrp, some historians believe that shakshuka originated in North African countries like Morocco, Libya, and Tunisia. But, Middle Eastern countries like Yemen and Turkey say the dish is theirs. Other groups of researchers say that it arrived in Israel via immigration from countries once ruled by the Ottoman Empire, an empire that controlled parts of North Africa, the Middle East, and Eastern Europe for six centuries, ending in the early 20th century (via History). These countries made a dish with chopped meat and cooked vegetables called "saksuka." More vegetables were added over time, and shakshuka was on Israel's restaurant menus by the 1990s. 

As told by Culture Trip, the immigrants from North African countries arrived in Israel with many financial strains, so they looked for affordable meals that didn't include complicated ingredients and were also comforting. Shakshuka was easy to make, and it only required a pan to do so, helping it to become a famous breakfast, lunch, or even dinner. Throughout history, shakshuka has been made many different ways, like green shakshuka, and has conquered palates all over the world. Definitely, it's a dish with lots of flavor and history!