I first came across a recipe for Baghdad eggs in one of my favourite cook books, Jake Tilson’s ‘A Tale of 12 Kitchens’ (from which I also cooked a mummified chicken). Tilson discovered the recipe in the book ‘Medieval Arab Cookery‘, which describes eggs on a bed of spiced celery; my version however is more akin to modern recipes I’ve seen.
An egg is fried gently on a bed of softened onions, sizzled with lemon juice, sprinkled with cumin and paprika then slicked with melted butter. The whole lot is served on top of toasted pitta, which softens in places under the oozy egg. A dollop of yoghurt and a flurry of chopped mint contrast the richness.
This is quite indulgent considering the aforementioned butter, which is why it’s my new favourite Sunday brunch, Middle Eastern style.
Baghdad Eggs (serves 2)
1 medium onion, diced
1 clove garlic, crushed
2 good generous knobs of butter
Squeeze of lemon juice
2 toasted pittas
Melt a knob of butter in a frying pan and cook the onions gently until they start to soften. Add the garlic and cook for a couple of minutes. Squeeze in the juice of half a lemon, then crack in the eggs.
Dust each egg with a little cumin and paprika (use your fingers to do this and be conservative – you don’t want huge clumps of spice in there), plus some salt and pepper then put a lid on and let cook until the eggs are just set. Toast your pitta breads then split them apart and toast the er, untoasted side under the grill.
In a separate small pan, melt another knob of butter and sprinkle a little extra cumin and paprika into it. Leave this on a low heat to get a little brown and nutty.
When the eggs are cooked, cut up the pitta and arrange on a plate. Put an egg on top, making sure to get plenty of the onions too. Drizzle with some of the extra melted butter and garnish with a dollop of yoghurt and some mint.