I made this for my last two house-guests and they’ve been requesting the recipe ever since. This is by far one of the most popular dishes in my breakfast repertoire, although note that it makes for a great lunch or dinner also. It’s called Moroccan Eggs, and the inspiration comes from a favorite variation (of the same name…) from Cafe Mogodor in the east village. I’ve also incorporated some parts from even more original versions of this dish that I’ve experienced while traveling; in Israel I had a relative of this dish called Shakshouka, which means “to shake” – it is typically made a bit spicier. In Turkey, at the fantastic little Kybele Hotel in Istanbul, I always have a dish called Menemen; this is made with Turkish banana peppers, tomatoes, onions and scrambled eggs, and I’ve been told is a staple dish for most Turkish men who can’t cook (our equivalent of a simple spaghetti and tomato sauce).
The underlying idea of all the versions of this dish is that you cook the tomato base with spices and add the eggs in to cook at the very end – you’re basically poaching eggs in the tomato sauce. As the tomato sauce cooks with the eggs, the sauce thickens in the most delightful way. This makes it ideal for dipping and soaking crusty bread. Use a cast iron skillet so you can serve this “in the pan” for a rustic, informal presentation. I’m such a fan of serving dishes in the same pan in which I prepare them, particularly because this is a plus for saving clean-up time. If you want to go the extra mile, toast whole cumin seeds in the iron skillet and grind them in a coffee grinder for optimum flavor. Grinding your own spices is so underrated!
Moroccan Eggs with Tomatoes and Cumin
Serves 4 as a light meal
1 (14 oz) can canned tomatoes
2 Tablespoons olive oil
6 scallions, trimmed and roughly sliced (onions or shallots are great instead)
4 garlic cloves, sliced or grated
1-½ teaspoons ground cumin
Pinch or two of cayenne pepper or chili flakes
½ teaspoon honey
4 organic eggs
3 Tablespoons cilantro (rough chopped)
Sea salt and black pepper to taste
Pour the olive oil into a medium fry pan over medium heat. Sauté the scallions until softened, then add the garlic and cumin. Then add the tomatoes, cayenne, salt and pepper. Add the honey if the tomatoes aren’t sweet enough to your taste. Cook on a simmer for 15 minutes until the mixture thickens a bit.
Then crack the eggs one in each quarter of the skillet. Spread the whites with a fork so that they cover the surface more evenly. Simmer until the eggs are cooked to your liking, about 5 minutes will cook the eggs so that they’re still soft inside but not runny.
Serve garnished with cilantro and warm bread for dipping.