Chakchouka is an extremely common dish in Tunisian cuisine and it comes in a plethora of varieties. However, that does not mean that there are no rules to respect and that you can just do whatever you want. Chakchouka is not supposed to be any sauce with eggs poached into it at the end, which is why Ojja is often confused or inaccurately equalized to it. The best way to describe chakchouka is as a stew-like vegetable medley. Think of French ratatouille or Italian caponata; chakchouka is their North African counterpart. It is thick and not supposed to be saucy. The term ‘chakchouka’ is Amazigh in origin from ‘chakchak’, which translates to ‘all mixed up together’, hence making its origins unquestionably North African. There are regional variations of the dish throughout North Africa, however the spicy, harissa-loaded versions that are the most popular and which people think they are familiar with are without a doubt Tunisian. This version, although fairly uncommon, is one of our mother’s favorite versions to make during the fall season. It is spicy, loaded with starchy potato and acorn squash, and beautifully finished off with dried mint before dropping in the egg(s).
You’ll need the following:
4-5 Roma tomatoes, diced (450g)
3 Red onions (small), sliced (400g)
Potato, chopped into thick 3 inch pieces (150g)
Acorn Squash, chopped into 1 inch pieces (200g)
Dried Mint (crushed into a coarse powder; avoid including any large stems), 1 tbsp
Olive Oil, 2-3 tbsp
Harissa Paste, 2 tbsp
Salt, 1 tsp
Paprika, 1 tbsp
Egg, 1 (or however many you want)
Step 1. Pour in the olive oil into a pot, set to medium heat, and add the sliced onions.
Step 2. Allow 15 minutes of sautéing until they start to caramelize nicely.
Step 3. Add the harissa paste and stir it in well into the caramelized onions until it is all nicely incorporated together. Caramelize for a few minutes while making sure your heat source is not too high so that you don’t burn the harissa and onions.
Step 4. Add the diced tomatoes and stir them well into the caramelized harissa and onions. Let it all begin to sauté and cover with a lid. Drop the heat to low-medium and allow to cook for about 5-7 minutes with the lid covered.
Step 5. Add the salt and paprika and stir to incorporate it well into the cooking tomatoes and onions. It should start smelling really nice already.
Step 6. Add the diced acorn squash, stir it into the tomatoes and onions until everything is well incorporated together. Cover with a lid and allow 10 minutes of cooking time on medium-low.
Step 7. Add the potato pieces, stir them into the simmering vegetable medley and add 1 tbsp of water. This little amount of water is just to help loosen it up a little in case it is too dry and you start to see some degree of burning at the bottom. It will also help to thoroughly cook the thick potato pieces. Cover with a lid and allow 15 minutes of cooking time on medium-low.
Step 8. Add the dried mint, mix it well into the cooked vegetable medley, and immediately after crack your egg(s) into the sauce. Cover with a lid, bring the heat down to low, and allow 2 minutes of cooking time so that the egg whites are cooked and the yolk is thick and runny. If you don’t want runny eggs, extend the cooking time to 4 minutes.
Step 9. Serve & Enjoy!
Chakchouka is usually best enjoyed with Tunisian tabouna, French baguette, or really any kind of bread that can soak up the rich sauce in this dish.
Serves one 🐻 or 👩🏾🤝👨🏽.