The classic combination of tomatoes and eggs can be found all over the world. This dish has a North African accent with the addition of cumin. Apparently it originates in Tunisa, but is common all across North Africa and in Israel, to where it was brought by Tunisian Jews. I’ve seen a very similar dish called Persian Eggs, so who knows where it really comes from. Who cares either, since it tastes so good. It’s quick and easy to prepare, which makes it great for mid-week dinner. Try to use really ripe tomatoes: it makes all the difference. The flavours are great in the winter too but it’s very difficult to get hold of ripe tomatoes, so you can use good tinned tomatoes.
Makes: 4 portions
|Tomatoes or 3 tins of whole plum tomatoes
Red pepper (optional)
Cumin (pre-ground is OK too)
Bird’s eye chilli (optional)
Sugar (depending on ripeness of tomatoes)
Good olive oil
25cm frying pan and lid
Wash the tomatoes. Cut into quarters and scoop out the seeds, leaving just the flesh. Cut each quarter in half again. Half the onions and slice quite thinly. Slice the red pepper if using. Chop the garlic roughly and break up the bird’s eye chilli with the back of a knife.
If using tinned tomatoes don’t include all the juice as the dish will be too runny.
Cover the bottom of the pan with olive oil and place on a medium to low heat. When the oil is hot add the onions and chilli (if using), followed a couple of minutes later by the garlic and the red pepper if using. Fry gently, stirring occasionally, until the onion is just starting to colour. In the meantime, roast the cumin lightly, grind coarsely and add to the pan just as the onions are ready.
Add the tomatoes and a spoon of sugar. Adjust the seasoning. Mix a little to distribute the ingredients equally. Cook gently for about 10 minutes until the tomatoes are soft but not mush. Make a small well near the edge of the pan and break the first egg into it. Repeat around the pan with the other eggs. Crack a little black pepper on each. Place the lid on the pan to help the eggs poach. After about 3 minutes the whites should be set and the yolks still runny, which is the way we like them.
Sprinke with some chopped parsely and serve straight from the pan with some crusty white bread to mop up the juices.