In Turkey, it is menemen, in many parts of the Middle East, it is shakshuka (claimed to be a North African import), and in Azerbaijan, it is pomidor chighirtmasi, also known as pomidor-yumurta (literally, “tomato-egg”). What do these dishes have in common?
In them, tomatoes and eggs prove to be a match made in heaven, or rather a skillet. Although in many cases, in shakshuka and menemen, besides tomatoes, other vegetables such as onions and peppers are also used before they are topped with eggs, pomidor chighirtmasi is made with only 2 main ingredients – tomatoes and eggs. Yet, the resulting dish is absolutely amazing. Sometimes the simplest of dishes are the ones that impress our palates the most. Don’t you agree?
Typically, pomidor chighirtmasi is served as a light lunch or dinner, but oftentimes in Azerbaijan you can see it on the breakfast menu of most traditional restaurants.
How is pomidor chighirtmasi made? The process is really easy. Ripe tomatoes are coarsely chopped with skin and all (why bother, unless you are picky about the peel) and cooked until they collapse and their succulent juices release into melted butter, making a scrumptious sauce. Then the eggs are poured on top and cooked until set. A sprinkle of salt and pepper on top and your meal is ready.
Simple, right? However, there are tips to achieving the best results and I’ll tell you all. First, use clarified butter if you can or just regular unsalted butter, for the most authentic taste. The butter and the releasing tomato juices create an unbelievably delicious sauce, which is a key component of the dish. Olive oil is fine if you absolutely cannot use butter, but it is not traditional.
Second, only use ripe and juicy tomatoes. Cardboard-hard tomatoes with light and dry interior is your passport to a no-good-pomidor-chighirtmasi.
Lastly, for best results, use organic eggs. In addition to contributing to a superior taste of the dish, good quality eggs with bright egg yolks will add to the panoply of vibrant colors dancing in the dish. (Although you stir the egg whites and yolks together, you do not do so vigorously so they are still somewhat distinct in the cooked dish.)
Well, now you know all the tips. I hope you feel ready to get in the kitchen and make this perfectly summery, succulent dish hailing from a beautiful country far away. It will make you feel connected. Enjoy!
- 5 medium juicy tomatoes, coarsely chopped (no need to peel the skin)
- 3 tablespoons clarified unsalted butter (ghee) or regular unsalted butter
- 3 eggs
- Ground black pepper
- In a frying pan, large enough to hold the tomato pieces in one dense layer, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the tomatoes and cook, uncovered, until the tomatoes break down and lots of juices have released, about 10 minutes. The tomatoes have to be tender at this point, with bigger chunks reduced in size. During the cooking, stir with a wooden spoon from time to time to prevent the juices from burning.
- Break the eggs into a bowl and stir to mix with a fork (not vigorously). Pour the eggs evenly over the tomatoes. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Cook, uncovered, until the eggs set, about 5 minutes. (You may need to make small holes in the dish, to let the eggs slide in and cook.) Do not stir the dish.
- Serve immediately, right in the pan or transferred onto a serving plate, with chunks of freshly baked bread on the side.