This Iraqi-inspired recipe is the stuff of Sunday evening suppers – nourishing, full of the taste of years gone by, but with a hint of the exotic propelling you into the week ahead.
The eggs are settled onto bread for two reasons: it stops them falling over, and it also serves to absorb some of the tomato-y goodness. Dishes served this way are known as tashreeb (which kind of means “drinking bread”), and it is a great way to cook – the bread somehow feels quite sinful, oozing with vegetable “dripping”, and what may be a simple vegetable concoction is rendered something more substantial and filling. It’s also a good way to use up not-quite-freshly-baked bread.
8 big tomatoes
2 onions, chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced (optional)
1 teaspoon marjoram
½ teaspoon turmeric
salt and pepper
1 sheet khobez (or 3 pitta)
100g / 3½oz grated cheese
1 teaspoon za’atar
Cut the tops from the tomatoes, and scoop out the flesh inside using a pointy teaspoon (or a melon-baller, if anyone has such a thing any more). Put the tomato shells to one side, and chop the inside bits, retaining as much of the juice as possible. Heat a little oil in a pan and cook off the onion; when it becomes translucent add the garlic, marjoram and turmeric. After a few minutes, add the chopped tomato.
Toast the bread and lay it in the bottom of a greased oven dish. Preheat the oven to 180C / 350F / Gas mark 4.
Spoon a little of the oniony mix into each of the tomato shells, and smear the rest across the bread. Nestle the tomatoes into the dish, and then crack an egg inside each one. Top with cheese and a sprinkling of za’atar.
Bake in the oven for 15 minutes, or until the eggs have set. Serve with additional warm bread.