Chakchouka is a North African tomato and pepper stew with eggs baked on top. It’s gentle spicing makes it a comforting meal for a cold winter’s evening, or an incredible brunch for a lazy Sunday. Baked eggs have become a bit of Sunday staple at the bakery where I work. The smell of chilli, garlic and onions frying, tomatoes warming and bread toasting is a real incentive to get everything done. Once the morning’s work is done, it’s a joy to sit down to a late breakfast and smother a piece of toast in spicy tomato sauce and oozing egg yolk.
Based on a recipe from River Cottage Veg Everyday
one teaspoon of cumin seeds
one large onion, halved and thinly sliced
two cloves of garlic, finely sliced
one teaspoon chilli flakes
half a teaspoon of smoked paprika
A 400g tin of plum tomatoes
half a 400g tin of chickpeas (optional)
salt and pepper
Preheat the oven to 200°C (fan oven)/ 220°C/ 425 Fahrenheit/ Gas Mark 7. Remove the stalk, white membrane and seeds from the peppers, lightly oil and place skin side up on a baking tray. Roast for around thirty minutes, or until tender and blackened. Set aside to cool
Heat a generous glug of oil in an oven proof pot and add the cumin seeds, chilli flakes, garlic, onion and a pinch of salt. Fry over a gentle heat for around twenty minutes, stirring occasionally. Meanwhile, remove the charred skin from the peppers and cut them into a one centimetre dice. Once the onions have softened, add the paprika, chopped peppers, along with any roasting juice that has settled on the base of the tray, and the tin of tomatoes, crushed a little by hand. You’re looking for a nice uneven texture to the sauce so crushing plum tomatoes gives a nicer result than just using chopped tomatoes. For an added bit of texture, I also added around half a tin of chickpeas in with the tomatoes.
Turn the oven down to 160°C (fan oven)/ 180°C/ 350 Fahrenheit/ Gas Mark 4 and gently cook the tomato sauce, until thick and jammy. Adjust the seasoning, make four hollows in the surface of the tomato sauce and then carefully crack an egg into each one. Bake the Chakchouka in the moderate oven for ten to twelve minutes, or until the white is set and the yolk is still runny. Serve with toast, and perhaps some avocado.