Note: The sauce may be prepared and refrigerated up to three days in advance. Authentic ingredients such as hawaij (a traditional Yemeni spice blend), Aleppo chili peppers, zhoug (Syrian chili paste), and Hungarian wax peppers are worth seeking out–Sofra sells them all at the bakery–but we've also provided substitutions, including Ana Sortun's simple recipe for making zhoug from scratch.
Combine oil, garlic, tomatoes, chili pepper (or cayenne), and hawaij (or curry powder) in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. When mixture begins to bubble, reduce heat to low and simmer gently until tomatoes are soft and melted, about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally (don't let mixture dry out).
In two or three batches, puree tomato mixture in a blender until very smooth. Season to taste with lemon juice and salt. (Sauce should have a smoky, spicy curry flavor.)
Heat oven to 400°. Transfer curried tomato sauce to a 9x13-inch baking pan, and bake until heated through, about 15 minutes.
Gently break 6 eggs on top of sauce (two rows of three), leaving enough space in between to keep whites from running together. Salt each egg lightly before returning pan to oven. Bake until whites are just barely set and yolks are very loose, about 20 minutes.
Remove from oven. Spoon eggs gently onto grilled bread, along with a generous amount of tomato sauce. Place a teaspoon of zhoug on top of each egg white and serve.
Zhoug (Syrian Chili Paste)
This recipe yields more paste than you'll need for 6 servings of shakshuka. Use the extra sauce to kick up grilled chicken or fish or as a sandwich condiment stirred into mayonnaise, or enjoy it simply by itself.
Combine first 8 ingredients in a blender and puree until smooth. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Yield: 1-¼ cups