Shakshouka (Arabic: شكشوكة, also spelled shakshuka or chakchouka) is a dish of eggs poached in a sauce of tomatoes, chili peppers and garlic, and commonly spiced with cumin, paprika, cayenne pepper and nutmeg. The dish has existed in Mediterranean and the Maghreb for centuries.
The word "Shakshouka" (Arabic: شَكْشُوكَةٌ) is Arabic slang (specifically Tunisian Arabic) for "a mixture". The word is derived from the Arabic verb شَكَّ translit. shakka, meaning "stick together, clump together, adhere or cohere".
Tomato-based stews were common throughout the Yemen, Ottoman Empire in Egypt, Syria, the Balkans and the Maghreb. These stews were called shakshouka in the Maghreb. The Ottoman dish şakşuka was originally a dish of cooked vegetables with minced meat or liver (ciġer). Tomato and chili peppers hot/sweet were introduced to the dish much later both having their origin to the Americas and meatless variations evolved. Jews in the Ottoman Maghreb served a pareve vegetarian variation and Tunisian Jews were known for creating spicy versions of egg shakshouka.
The exact origins of the dish are disputed. According to The Jewish Chronicle, some food historians believe the dish spread to Spain and the greater Middle East from Ottoman Turkey.
Some variations of shakshouka can be made with lamb mince, toasted whole spices, yogurt and fresh herbs. Others may include salty cheeses such as feta. Spices can include ground coriander, caraway, paprika, cumin and cayenne pepper.
In Israel, shakshouka is made with eggs which are commonly poached but can also be scrambled like the Turkish menemen. A 1979 Israeli cookbook Bishul la-Gever ha-Meshuhrar includes a recipe for "Lufgania Shakshuka". This is shakshouka made with a kosher version of Spam (called loof) that was added to IDF army rations in the 1950s.
According to food writer Claudia Roden, Tunisian cooks added artichoke hearts, potatoes and broad beans to the dish. Because eggs are the main ingredient, it is often on breakfast menus, but in Israel, it is also a popular evening meal, and like hummus and falafel, is a national favorite.
In Naples Italy, a variation of this dish is known as Uova in Purgatorio or "Eggs in Purgatory". "Taking its inspiration from Il culto delle anime del Purgatorio, the cult of the Souls of Purgatory...the eggs play the role of souls seeking purification, the sauce, that of the flames of purgatory." 
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