Tuesday, 24 June 2014

Chakchouka, World Cup Food Challenge 2014: Algeria


When I think of North African cuisine I tend to think of Morocco.  I suppose this is a product of the Moroccan tourist board doing a wonderful job of making Marrakech appear attractive!  Don't get me wrong there are some positive points about Marrakech, the food, the architecture and the wonderful riads.  However, holidaying in the midst of poverty just isn't my cup of mint tea (I can also live without having monkeys forced onto my shoulders every time I walk across the square!). Anyway, I'm sure you can guess by now that I didn't really like Marrakech but why am I rambling on about it when i'm supposed to be writing about Algeria?  Well, the answer is that they share a lot in common in terms of their cuisine, except the Algerians like things a lot spicier, get in!

This recipe is a spicy tomato and pepper based stew which is traditionally served for breakfast.  There are versions of this dish prepared all over North Africa and the Middle East and ingredients used tend to vary from country to country and also from household to household!  I quite like the idea of adding Merguez sausage to this but I thought I wouldn't ruin the opportunity to have a rare vegetarian dish on the blog (plus I couldn't find any Merguez!).  My version here makes the most of the Algerian love affair with spice and has cumin, paprika and the wonderfully fiery Harissa.  We had this for tea and I had to tone down the Harissa levels to suit the little 'uns but feel free to add more if you have carte blanche(just a little nod to the french-colonial times there!) to suit yourself.

This is a delicious dish which shares a lot in common with the Mexican dish Huevos Rancheros; I always find it fascinating how there are similar dishes and cooking styles from such a broad range of countries.  Anyway, i'll stop rambling on and actually type something useful like the recipe!

Chakchouka

Ingredients

2 Tbsp Olive Oil
3/4 Tsp Cumin Seeds
1 Onion, sliced
2 Garlic Cloves, diced
1 Red Pepper
1 Yellow Pepper
1 Orange Pepper
1 Tbsp Paprika
1 Tsp Harissa Paste
6 Tomatoes, skinned and chopped
Handful Black Olives
4 Eggs
Flat Leaf Parsley to garnish

Method

1.  Heat the oil in a tagine or saute pan with a lid.  Add the cumin seeds and fry over a moderate heat until they start to pop.  Add the onion and garlic and fry until the onions are softened but not coloured.
2.  Turn up the heat and add the peppers and fry until starting to colour and onions are golden brown.  Add the paprika and harissa and fry for a further minute to cook out.
3.  Add the tomatoes and fry until the juices have released.  At this point you may need to add water if there isn't enough liquid in the pan.  Place the lid on and simmer for 10-15 minutes until the tomatoes have stewed down to a rich sauce.
4.  Add the olives and season to taste with salt and black pepper.  Create 4 holes in the sauce and crack an egg into each hole.  You may find it easier to crack them one at a time into a bowl and pour them from the bowl into the gap created.
5.  Place the lid on your tagine or saute pan and simmer for around 8 minutes or until the eggs are cooked but still have runny yolks.
6.  Garnish with fresh parsley and serve with warm Khobez/Khobz Ftir or Pitta Bread to mop up the egg yolk and spicy sauce.

The more I find out about Algerian cuisine, the more I like it!  This dish is an absolute winner; cheap, easy and a real crowd pleaser!  It has a spicy but clean flavour and a lovely sweetness from the peppers.  The Khobez (available in your local Morrison's, let it shine and all that!) is a typical flatbread which works well to dip into the yolk.  It looks like Algeria might make it through the group as well, happy days!
 
Where's the meat?! ;-)

Do you have any recommendations for any other traditional Algerian recipes I should try? Remember to search for #wcfc2014 on Twitter to see the full list of World Cup recipes! Cheers,

FoodandFrets



3 comments:

  1. Great picture!
    My Dad (who is Algerian) used to make Chakchouka quite often in the summer, when the tomatoes we used to grow were at their best.
    His recipe involved courgettes too, and he would often stir the eggs in at the end rather than poaching them in the sauce. His mother made it in the same way, probably because they were very poor and couldn't afford to cook one egg per person!

    If you want to try something else, have a go at couscous. It is a tomato-based stew with meat and veg of your choice thrown in, and served with couscous semolina. It is an Algerian staple! Let me known if you are interested and I can send you a recipe.

    If you are in a bread-making mood, I have a recipe for Kobz el Dar on my blog which is very easy!

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  2. Thanks a lot! I remember reading your bread recipe when you posted it and being intrigued by the technique, i'll go back and have another look! It's great to hear your stories of your relatives and the way they cooked. You could do a feature on your blog of family recipes! It's interesting that the eggs are traditionally stirred in, I like the idea in that it would enrich the sauce but I think I'd miss being able to dip the bread in the yolk as well! Thanks again.

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  3. Thanks for the suggestion, I like it!

    ReplyDelete