Despite the ease of its execution, simplicity is not this dish’s patrimony. A dish like this connects you to a community of people at tables all over the world. The nuts, pastes, seeds and spices evoke images of dry weather, open air cafes, small unadorned restaurants, lived-in kitchens, boisterous and lively conversations, taciturn and delicate confessions, rich and intricate clothing or the modest coverings of an older generation. It brings to mind the sounds of traffic passing and children playing, people going about their business. All the details of life.
Many cultures have their own versions of this dish. This particular one is another inspiration with a twist from Yotam Ottolenghi and Sam Tamimi’s Jerusalem cookbook. If you buy one cookbook this year, this is the one. The more I experiment with their incredible recipes the more I learn. By changing just a few ingredients you can take the base for this dish and make a “bandeja paisa” from Colombia, a “kheema masala” from India, or any number of minced meat based dishes.
In my version of their wonderful recipe, I used chopped turkey laced with cumin, a touch of harissa sauce, some sun dried tomatoes and herbs. They marry together in a hot saute pan with garlic and onions bathed lightly in olive oil. For texture, I add almost a full cup of finely chopped nuts–half creamy pistachio and half rich almond–adding another layer of subtle flavor. As the nuts toast and bolster the rest of the ingredients with their fragrance and texture, I make a very easy tahini yogurt sauce to add at the end. Carve out four small divots in the meat to poach four eggs into the soft mixture. Cover, sprinkle with cilantro and red pepper flakes, add a few dollops of the tahini yogurt sauce and in under an hour, a healthy meal awaits, reminiscent of all of the places I’ve been and infusing life into the dreams of all of the places I’d like to be.
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 large onion chopped
- 6 cloves garlic
- 1 pound ground turkey
- 2 tsp ground cumin
- 2 tsp red pepper flakes
- 2 tbs rosemary or herbs de provence and sundried tomato paste
- 1/2 cup pistachios crushed
- 1/4 cup almonds crushed
- 3 tsp harissa paste
- juice of 1 lemon
- 1/2 cup vegetable stock
- 4 large eggs
- 1 handful cilantro
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1/2 cup fat free Greek yogurt
- 2 tablespoons tahini paste
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon water
Heat olive oil over medium head in a medium saute pan for which you have a lid. Add the onion and galic and saute until brown. Add the ground turkey and cook until brown. Season with the cumin, salt, pepper and herbs de provence/sun dried tomatoes. Turn off heat an d stir in the nuts, harissa and lemon juice.
Prepare yogurt sauce by mixing together all the ingredients and adding a touch of salt.
Reheat the saute pan and add the chicken/vegetable stock. Bring to a boil. Make four small holes in the mix and break an egg into each one. Cover the pan and cook the eggs over low heat for 5 minutes. Cover until the egg whites are cooked, leaving the yolks runny.
Remove from heat and add dollops of yogurt sauce and tomato paste. Sprinkle with cilantro and red pepper flakes.