- 2 cans diced tomatoes
- 8 eggs – room temperature
- 1 onion
- 1 clove of garlic
- 1 sachet saffron
- ¼ teaspoon rock salt
- 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
- ½ teaspoon fennel seeds
- ½ teaspoon chilli flakes
- ½ teaspoon coriander seeds
- 1 tablespoon sumac
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- ½ cup flat leaf parsley
- ½ cup mint
- 100g fetta
- Extra virgin olive oil
Have you experienced how simple it can be to use saffron? Did you fold each saffron strand into its own buttery bed? Did you taste how the saffron and the anise from the tarragon played together to make it the best roast chicken you have ever had?
Every morning, after all the saffron flowers are picked, they are taken up to the house where we separate the petals from the stigmas. Once we have all the saffron stigmas, they are dried gently to remove the moisture and help develop their flavour, they are then aged for a further 6 months while the flavours mature. It takes approximately 150,000 flowers to produce 1 kg of saffron, or to help with the context, there are generally 60 strands in 0.1 grams of saffron. It doesn’t weight very much and you don’t need very much, so trust me, in each satchel there is enough.
Saffron shouldn’t always be the star of a dish, she isn’t a diva, and is excellent in supporting roles. You won’t always notice her, but the story will be missing something if you leave her out.
Being half Egyptian I grew up often having beans or shakshuka for breakfast. Here saffron is blended into the other spices, with the intent of creating a multidimensional flavour profile. In this step you are introduced to the concept of grinding the saffron in a mortar and pestle, this is how saffron is most often used and is a very effective way to release the flavour, aroma and colour quickly. If you don’t have other spices to grind, I generally grind the saffron with salt, if for savour use, or sugar if for sweet, this ensures you will get the best outcome.
Great with older saffron, where the flavour is darker, has characteristics of iodine, damp earth and hay.
Place all the spices except the sumac in a mortar and pestle and grind well.
Dice the onion and garlic. Place a pan on medium heat and dry roast the spice mix for a couple of minutes, keep the pan moving as you don’t want the spices to burn. When they are fragrant, add oil, onions and garlic and sweat until golden.
Turn the heat up to medium high, add the tomatoes, rinse out the cans with warm water, increasing the liquid by half a can. Add sumac, sugar and pepper. Once bubbling, add the finely chopped mint and reduce to a simmer.
Reduce the sauce by 1/3, taste for balance of salt and sweet, add chopped parsley and stir through and take off the heat.
This sauce can be made a day ahead as the flavours just develop wonderfully as they sit together.
Preheat the oven to 180 C.
Oil the sides of the ramekins well, this stops the eggs sticking to the sides.
Fill each ramekin ¾ full with sauce, then break two eggs into the top, and crumb over some fetta.
Cook for 15 mins uncovered, or until eggs are just set.