Sunday brunch at Chez Olivier meant my favorite, chakchouka! Waking up to the smell of bell peppers roasting in the oven was always a treat. The dish is similar to a ratatouille. Traditionally, chakchouka consists of only tomatoes and bell peppers, topped with a poached egg. Sometimes it is served with merguez. My father’s personal recipe included merguez, potatoes, carrots and sometimes zucchini. His chakchouka was the best I’ve ever had. My own recipe has the flavor of my fatherʼs, but I prefer to stick with the classic ingredients.
2 red bell peppers
2 green bell peppers
1 serrano chile (or similar spicy pepper)
3 cloves of garlic
1 tbs extra virgin olive oil
1 onion-cut in half and sliced
1/2 tsp coarse sea salt
black pepper to taste
1/2 tsp cumin
1 tsp coriander
1 tbs finely chopped cilantro for garnish
Broil or BBQ the tomatoes and bell peppers. My Aunt Simona taught me a useful trick; if you cover the bottom of your roasting pan with water it will be easy to clean after broiling. Turn the peppers about every 8-10 minutes so that they are black but not charred on all sides. The tomatoes will be done much faster then the peppers so donʼt stray too far from your oven or BBQ.
After you remove the peppers & tomatoes from the oven or bbq, put them in a glass container and seal the top with plastic wrap. Let them cool in the sealed container as this will make it easy to remove the skins.
Remove skins, then dice the tomatoes and slice the peppers into strips. Set aside in a large frying pan, sautée the onions with the salt until soft.Add the garlic, then sautée for another couple of minutes. Add the chopped tomatoes, peppers, harissa, cumin, coriander and tomato paste. Cover the pan and let everything cook together on a low fire for about 10 minutes or until the top layer of the chakchouka gets shiny. Form little pockets in the pan for the eggs to nest in, then crack the eggs into each nest.