Sunday, July 7, 2013

Braised Eggs with Lamb, Tahini & Sumac

This is a very satisfying and eye-pleasing meal that can be served family-style for breakfast, lunch, or dinner.  Ground lamb seasoned with harissa, spices, and a blend of nuts with four braised eggs nestled on top.  Once the eggs are done to your liking it's time to add all the toppings: charred cherry tomatoes, a thick and velvety tahini yogurt sauce, and a sprinkling of cilantro and sumac. If you like things spicy, go ahead and add a little harissa on top too.  Serve this with a little bread, pita bread would be best, and you're all set!

I think my favorite part of making this dish was the harissa, a spicy red chile paste common in North Africa.  It's a spicy blend of red pepper, red chile peppers, onion, garlic, lemon juice and spices that can be used to season so many dishes.  The harissa adds a really flavorful dose of heat to this recipe that is distinctive and so delicious. After tasting the harissa in this recipe I have grown to absolutely love it.  My jar of harissa is front and center in my refrigerator.  I've added the harissa to my standard meatloaf.  I've added it to eggs.  I added it to my spaghetti sauce.  Just this morning I added it to my breakfast burritos.  It's my new favorite condiment!  If you enjoy a very flavorful way to heat up your food then I encourage you to make a batch!

Braised Eggs with Lamb, Tahini & Sumac
Adapted from Jerusalem
by Yotam Ottolenghi & Sami Tamimi

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
6 cloves garlic, sliced thinly
1 pound of ground lamb
2 teaspoons sumac, plus extra to finish
1 teaspoon cumin
scant 1/2 cup toasted pistachios, crushed
7 tablespoons pine nuts
2 teaspoons harissa paste (recipe below)*
1 tablespoon finely chopped preserved lemon peel
1-1/2 cups cherry tomatoes or diced tomato
1/2 cup chicken stock
4 large eggs
1/4 cup pickled cilantro leaves or 1 tablespoon Zhoug
salt and pepper

Yogurt Sauce:
  scant 1/2 cup Greek yogurt
1 - 1/2 tablespoons tahini paste
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1-2 tablespoons of water

Heat the olive oil over medium-high heat in a medium heavy bottomed frying pan for which you have a tight fitting lid (cast-iron would be great here).  Add the onion and garlic and saute for 6 minutes to soften and color a bit.  Raise the heat to high, add the lamb, and brown well, 5 to 6 minutes.  Season with the sumac, cumin, 3/4 teaspoon salt, and some black pepper and cook for another minute.  Turn off the heat, stir in the nuts, harissa, and preserved lemon and set aside.

While the onion is cooking, heat a separate small cast-iron or other heavy pan over high heat.  Once piping hot, add the cherry tomatoes and char for 4 to 6 minutes, tossing them in the pan occasionally, until slightly blackened on the outside.  Set aside.  (I skipped this step with the tomatoes because I used regular chopped tomato).

Prepare the yogurt sauce by whisking together all the ingredients with a pinch of salt.  It needs to be thick and rich, but you may need to add a splash of water if it is stiff.  (I did have to add another tablespoon of water or so to thin out the sauce).

You can leave the meat, tomatoes, and sauce at this stage for up to an hour.  When you're ready to serve, reheat the meat, add the chicken stock, and bring to a boil.  Make 4 small wells in the mix and break an egg into each well.  Cover the pan and cook the eggs over low heat for 3 minutes.  Place the tomatoes on top, avoiding the yolks, cover again, and cook for 5 minutes, until the egg whites are cooked but the yolks are still runny.  (Be careful not to have the heat up to high or else the yolks will cook through).

Remove from the heat and dot with dollops of the yogurt sauce, sprinkle with sumac, and finish with the cilantro.  Serve at once.

Adapted from Jersusalem
by Yotam Ottolenghi & Sami Tamimi
Makes 1 small jar/about 3/4 cup

1 red pepper (I used one roasted red pepper from a jar)
1/2 teaspoon coriander seeds
1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
1/2 teaspoon caraway seeds
1-1/2 tablespoon olive oil
1 small red onion, coarsely chopped (about 2/3 cup total)
3 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
3 hot red chiles, seeded and coarsely chopped
1-1/2 teaspoon tomato paste
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice 
1/2 teaspoon salt

Note: I didn't have a fresh red pepper so I used one roasted red pepper from a jar.  I would do this shortcut again just because I don't really care for roasting peppers and peeling the skin away.  I also used a combination of red onion and white onion, equal parts.  I also added a bit more lemon juice to the final product because I felt it needed that extra burst of bright flavor.

If using a fresh red pepper, place the pepper under a very hot broiler, turning occasionally for about 25 minutes, until blackened on the outside and completely soft.  Transfer to a bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and allow to cool.  Peel the pepper and discard its skin and seeds.

Place a dry frying pan over low heat and lightly toast the coriander, cumin, and caraway seeds for 2 minutes.  Remove them to a mortar and use a pestle to grind to a powder.

Heat the olive oil in a frying pan over medium heat, and fry the onion, garlic, and chiles for 10 to 12 minutes, until a dark smoky color and almost caramelized.

Now use a blender or a food processor to blitz together all of the paste ingredients until smooth, adding a little more oil if needed.  

Store in a sterilized jar in the fridge for up to 2 weeks or even longer.

Theme: Pain the Town Red!


  1. Kim, this looks amazing. I have been following your blog since the beginning and your passion for food and discovering new dishes just keeps growing. You are inspiring. I love it!


  2. Kim, I'm so glad you made this dish. I loved it and I knew you would too. Like you I could eat this any time of day. Harissa is definitely my condiment of choice these days too. In the past, hot sauce has never really done it for me - I find it a bit one-dimensional in so far as it really just adds heat and that's it. But I love the extra burst of more complex flavours that harissa adds to a dish with all the spices, lemony goodness, plus heat that it offers. I stir it into things all the time! Using bottled roasted peppers is a good idea - I don't mind roasting and peeling peppers myself (in fact I quite enjoy it), but I do use the ready roasted ones in the winter, along with soaked dried chillies, when the price of fresh ones is astronomical.

  3. This is definitely a stunner. One of those dishes that make people say "wow" when it comes to the table.

    I find myself constantly pleased to see all the YO recipes that use various nuts. Not an ingredient I expected would turn up so often--but I'm happy that it does!

  4. Every once in a while our store has ground lamb and I always buy several packages when I see it. This looks fabulous Kim and packed with lots of flavor.

  5. That looks so delicious I'll definitely have to give it a try.
    I agree with both you and Sue about the harissa. I made mine yesterday and it has great flavour, far more complex than most hot sauces.

  6. I'm going to have to make this minus the lamb (maybe with soy crumbles) because i can never so no to braised eggs! Plus that harissa is pulling on my heartstrings.

  7. This looks so delicious! I've just visited Sue and now here. I'm bookmarking this to try one of these days. Your harissa paste looks delish! I'm afraid that I'll have to cheat for the harissa this month, since I've already made own (not Ottolenghi's), I'm just gonna use that up. But will definitely be making one of Ottolenghi's dishes!

  8. Harrisa Kim – that’s you adding it to everything!! I know it’s spicy so I know my tender palate would just die if I had that spicy food! It looks wonderful and I have to admit I love every ingredient you have used here. I think cumin alone adds an exotic flavor to foods once in a while. Thanks for your nice comments, I am looking forward to potluck at IHCC as well!

  9. My daughter is wanting me to try more lamb. Her boyfriend is from Senegal and his sister has made her some great lamb dishes. I just haven't tried it much.

  10. Another dish that makes me want meat! ;-) This looks wonderful. I loved my homemade harissa too and I now know I need to try it with eggs!

  11. This sounds delicious. It looks even better. I love meals that can go for any meal of the day. Thank you for the pictures and the helpful hints. Thanks for the recipe.

    Please Visit my website : Online PhD UK

  12. Oh my goodness. Oh my goodness. I'm head over heels for harissa, and I'm allllmost as fond of tahini, too. I wonder if I could adapt the recipe to plan for leftovers? Maybe save servings of the meat mixture and braise an egg each night? Or maybe I'll need to have a brunch party! :)

  13. This looks like such a lovely meal for any time of day. Yum!!


Thanks so much for taking the time to leave a comment! At the moment I am having a huge problem with spam so I've had to add comment moderation and close off comments to anonymous users. I apologize for the trouble and hope to return my comments to normal shortly.