Eggs in Purgatory (Shakshouka/Chakchouka)

To honor the people of Tunisia, and their recent victorious revolution, we wanted to make something Tunisian.  The only traditional Tunisian food I have ever eaten before was shakshouka or chakchuka.  This is a traditional Tunisian dish that is commonly eaten across North Africa.  Not only has the dishes roots gotten lost in translation (in Egypt, we have a version called agga), but in English this got translated as “eggs in purgatory.”  Why, you ask? It is likely because the eggs are swimming in sinfully delicious peppery tomato sauce.  Okay, so I really have no idea.
I decided to hit the books to find how it is traditionally made.  Claudia Rodan has a fairly simple recipe in her book: The New Book of Modern Middle Eastern Food.  Some have even taken it to another level, like Joumana of Taste of Beirut, where she literally stuffs an entire potato with eggs and peppers.  The common elements across all of the recipes appear to be keeping the eggs whole (so they look fried), tomatoes, and bell peppers.  The rest is up to your imagination (my favorite part!).  I decided to tread the traditional line, and only make a few changes here and there.  The result: delicious eggs, bordering on sinful….
Eggs simmerin’ in purgatory

Eggs in Purgatory (Shakshouka/Chakchouka)

by Brenda

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 10 minutes

Keywords: saute breakfast vegetarian eggs

Ingredients (serves 3)

  • 6 eggs
  • 2 ripe tomatoes, sliced
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, sliced
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1/4 c fresh parsley, chopped
  • 3 cloves of garlic, diced
  • 1/2 tsp cumin seeds or powder
  • pinch of cayenne pepper (optional)
  • salt
  • pepper
  • olive oil


(1) In a large saucepan, heat up 1 to 2 tbsp of olive oil over medium heat. Once the pan is warm, add the garlic and onions. Once the onions are translucent, add the cumin seeds/powder. Let the cumin simmer with the onions for a few moments. If you’d like to kick it up a notch, now would be a good time to add a pinch of cayenne pepper.

(2) Add the tomatoes, parsley, and bell pepper. Stir together, and let cook until the tomatoes are soft.

(3) Drop the eggs in one by one, on top of the mixture in the saucepan. When you place the eggs in the pan, spread them evenly so that you can see the yolks all across the pan.

(4) Sprinkle salt and pepper to taste. When the whites of the eggs are no longer runny, the dish is ready. You can serve directly from the saucepan, or you can remove it to a plate (although it is tricky to get it out of the pan).

(5) Serve with warm pita bread. Enjoy!

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1 Comment

  1. I’ve been dying to try this. Not sure where in Dubai I can taste this. But i told my husband I would try to make this at home 🙂 I could imagine this would also be divine with buttered toast (preferrably a crusty bread). YUMO!

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