North African Eggs

This recipe is a twist on eggs poached in tomato sauce.

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This recipe comes from Gordon Ramsay’s Home Cooking, an excellent cookbook I received from my mother in law for Christmas last year. I love this cookbook because although Gordon Ramsay is famous for shouting at people on TV, he knows his stuff. The recipes are straightforward and approachable, but interesting and just a bit different.

I’ve made eggs poached in tomato sauce before—the standard eggs in purgatory as well as Mario Batali’s variation, eggs in Hell—but I was intrigued by the twist in Ramsay’s version: a whole teaspoon of cumin seeds. This one ingredient takes the dish in a totally different direction, turning the comforting, hearty tomato sauce into something fragrant and slightly exotic. (For something a little less adventurous, try swapping the cumin for fennel seeds.)

My only changes to the original were increasing the serving size, swapping the red chili for a jalapeno, and adding a pinch of red pepper flakes to up the spice level (leave it out if you prefer). With a chunk of ciabatta or a crusty baguette, this dish makes an easy weeknight dinner or a filling, leisurely breakfast. Or, serve it over rice or quinoa.

It also works as a one-person meal. Simply halve the ingredients, or do what I did here: Make the whole batch of sauce but only poach the number of eggs you want to eat right away. Save the extra sauce in the fridge or freezer; reheat over medium heat, covered, in a small pan or pot until hot and then poach eggs using the method below.

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Gordon Ramsay’s North African Eggs

Serves 2


  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 or 2 bell peppers, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 jalapeno, seeded and diced
  • Pinch red pepper flakes, optional
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 5 medium tomatoes, diced, about 4 cups (or two 15-oz cans diced tomatoes)
  • Pinch of sugar, if necessary
  • 2-3 tbsp water, if necessary
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2-4 eggs
  • 1 scallion, chopped, optional
  • 1 tbsp fresh cilantro or parsley, chopped, optional
  • Crusty bread for serving


  1. Heat a skillet or sauté pan with a lid over medium heat and add the olive oil. Sauté the onion for about 5 minutes until it begins to soften.
  2. Add the bell pepper and continue to cook another 5 minutes.
  3. Stir in the garlic, jalapeno and red pepper, if using, and cook 2 minutes more until softened.
  4. Add the cumin and cook, stirring, another minute or two until fragrant.
  5. Stir in the tomatoes and season with salt and pepper. If using fresh tomatoes, you can add a pinch of sugar if the tomatoes are not completely ripe, and/or 2-3 tbsp of water if they aren’t very moist. Cook 15-20 minutes until the mixture becomes the consistency of thick tomato sauce.
  6. Crack the eggs into individual custard cups, measuring cups or other small vessels. Use the back of a spoon to make an indentation in the sauce and gently pour in an egg. Repeat until all eggs are used.
  7. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cover the pan. Cook until the egg whites have set (jiggle the pan to check) but the yolks are still somewhat runny. Garnish with the scallion and cilantro or parsley, and serve with crusty bread.

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