Wednesday 24 July 2013

Madhouse recipe : Ojja (traditional Tunisian dish)

Last year when we were on holiday in Tunisia, I got roped into an outdoor cookery demonstration and ended up cooking a traditional dish - ojja - with the hotel head chef, wearing a swimming costume and chef's hat, right next to the pool. Bizarre ! It's a really lovely, not to mention simple, recipe though so I thought I'd share it with you. There are various versions - one with eggs, one with spicy sausages, one with both - so you can adapt it to suit your tastes and whatever you have in the fridge. In the photo above, the chef stirred in the eggs so they scrambled (presumably easier when cooking for a large number of people) but I actually prefer it with the eggs whole.

Ojja (Tomato & Red/Green Pepper Based Dish with Eggs or Spicy Sausage)

Ingredients : (quantities to be adjusted according to the number of portions you want - this is enough for our family of 5)

2 tins of chopped tomatoes (or very ripe fresh tomatoes, chopped)
2 tbsp tomato puree
1 red pepper, deseeded and sliced
1 green pepper, deseeded and sliced
1 teaspoon harissa or chilli paste (optional)
a pinch of ground coriander
a pinch of ground cumin
2 small garlic cloves, sliced
Olive oil

Optional :
5 merguez (spicy sausages)
5 eggs

Method :

Heat a drizzle of olive oil in a large pan (width is more important than depth) and gently fry the chopped garlic until it goes light golden brown - don't let it burn. Add the red and green peppers and cook, stirring every now and then, for 10 minutes. Pour in the tomatoes, tomato puree and the spices/harissa and leave to simmer for a further 10 minutes.

If using the merguez, gently fry them in a separate pan then add them to the mixture.

If using eggs, make 5 'holes' in the sauce and carefully crack an egg in each, making sure you leave the yolk intact. Lower the heat and simmer until the eggs are cooked through.

This was served at our hotel for breakfast (with eggs) pretty much every day and often at lunch or dinner, with merguez. If you don't like spicy food, you can leave out the harissa/chilli but it does give it a lovely Tunisian flavour.

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