At the buffet in the restaurants of All Inclusive hotels in Tunisia, tourists see the dish interesting and strange at the same time. At first glance it is scrambled eggs, but for the usual fried eggs it is too red. I want to try, but scary.
This dish is called "shakshuka", in Tunisia it is considered one of the symbols of the national cuisine along with Tunisian couscous and bricks . It's eggs in a sauce of tomatoes, onions, bell peppers and spices. How it looks, look at the photo on the right, click on the photo to enlarge.
Where did the name and dish come from
The word "shakshuka" is present in the Egyptian, Libyan and Tunisian dialects of the Arabic language, it is translated as "a mixture". It is believed that this word came in Arabic dialects from the Berber language.
There is another interesting word that can shed light on the origin of the name of the dish, this word "shakshek", meaning "shake". This word is in Egyptian and Tunisian Arabic, Berber languages and Hebrew, which clearly indicates to us the Punic origin of this word. Probably, a similar dish for breakfast was eaten in ancient Carthage .
What do shakshuka and what are the variations
In modern Tunisia and Algeria, the simplest variant of shakshuki from eggs, tomatoes, onions and spices is popular. Shakshuku is eaten with bread, which is collected the remaining sauce.
Paradoxically, the fact is that eggs in shakshuk are not an obligatory ingredient. The essence of this dish is in sauce, in which sausages are prepared, pieces of potatoes or legumes. Eggs in this case can not add, and the dish will still be called shakshuka. Sometimes the onions are not used, but replaced with garlic. In recent decades, cheese has been added to shakshuku.
Shakshuk in Tunisia and in the world
Perhaps in Russia shaksuka will never gain such popularity, as in the countries of the Middle East and North Africa. In Tunisia, very cheap tomatoes, prices are amazing for Russian tourists . In supermarkets in Carrefour, a kilogram of tomatoes costs from 0.8 to 1 Tunisian dinar . If in Russia tomatoes were sold at such prices, we would also use them as a cheap filler for most dishes, as Tunisians do. Read more in detail our review " The cost of food in Tunisia ".
In Tunisia shaksuku is often called the word "chakchuk". Tunisians prefer to eat this dish for breakfast, although in hotels it is served for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
In the 1950s, there was a massive immigration of Jews from Tunisia to Israel, a particularly large diaspora lived on the island of Djerba , where only 1,000 people of the Jewish population now live. Jews from Tunisia brought to Israel many dishes, and shakshuk among them. The photo shows the Israeli version, you can be sure that it is difficult to distinguish it from Tunisia.
Now shakshuka is very common in Israel, competes in popularity with hummus and falafel. The dish has undergone some adaptation. First, Israelis prefer it for dinner, not for breakfast. Secondly, Israelis prefer to cook shakshuku on the basis of tomato paste, and not fresh tomatoes. In Israel, this dish is also called "tasting Jews from Suss", pointing to the origin of the city of Sousse .
In Tunisia, Algeria and Israel, they prepare a shakshuku in a frying pan, and the Moroccans have distinguished themselves, they are often cooked in Tajin, a national dish that tourists can see and buy in souvenir shops in Tunisia . Read more in our article " pottery and dishes in Tunisia ".
In the 1980s, with the wave of immigration, shakshuk came to the US, where it became a very popular dish for breakfast. The interesting fact is that most Americans consider this dish to be purely Jewish, even do not know about its origin from Tunisia.
Some historians of cooking seriously declare that shakshuku was invented in Turkey during the Ottoman times, and already the Turks spread the dish throughout North Africa and to Spain. In those days shakshuka served with sharp sausages.
In Turkish cuisine there is a very similar dish, called "nenemen" (pictured right). In Turkey, there is also a dish with the name "shakshuka", but it is more like ratatouille. It is made from eggplant, bell pepper, onion, garlic and tomatoes with red and black pepper sauce in olive oil.
In Spain, there is a similar dish, called "pisto manchego", but it is cooked without eggs. Pisto manchoe comes from the Spanish region of La Mancha, from there Don Quixote La Mancha came from the famous novel of Cervantes.
It is difficult to say which of these dishes is from which happened, or they just have common roots, or dishes originated independently of each other.
Tips for tourists
- The main rule for tourists - eat shakshuku carefully, so as not to get dirty. On vacation there is no washing machine, the rest of clothing is limited, and the tomato sauce is very difficult to wash.
- Shakshuk can be moderately acute, and maybe very sharp, it all depends on the amount of added sauce harissa . We recommend not to put a lot on a plate at once, but put one egg and try it. Like, take more.
"Sometimes a shakshuk is even hard to know when the sauce is too much, he just pours egg squirrels from above.
- Russian tourists like shakshuku most if it is cooked with sausages or Tunisian marvels .
- In a shakshuk can be mixed up to a dozen spices, beware of allergies, it is difficult to predict the reaction of the body to the whole set of spices in advance. In any case, we recommend tourists to take with them allergy medications and digestive disorders, which we discussed in detail in the article " What to take to Tunisia ".
We wish you a great taste of Tunisian dishes, and read useful for travelers and educational reviews about Tunisia on our website ( links below ).