My brother-in-law Khaled is from Ouzoud in Morocco, a picturesque village nestled in the foothills of the Atlas mountains. It's a beautiful part of the country; there's a magnificent waterfall, huge valleys filled with olive trees and barley, all surrounded by the red earth of the rolling hills. It's one of the loveliest, most relaxing places I've ever been to. Of course, there are some excellent things to eat here too.
Clearly, one of the main attractions of Morocco, for me, is the food. It's famed for the Tagine, the iconic red clay dish with a conical lid, and many dishes will be cooked and also served in it. This omelette was a regular brunch during our stay in Ouzoud, and I love the simplicity of it. There are a fair number of ingredients, but the process is straight forward; it's essentially a rustic, lightly spiced ragout made from peppers, tomatoes and lemon, and finished with some lightly beaten eggs. I love the addition of chopped lemon, pith and skin and all. It adds a wonderful zing and depth of flavour.
You'll need either a tagine or a heavy based frying pan with lid, measuring about 22cm in diameter.
- 4 eggs
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1 small red onion, chopped
- 2 large cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 2 large tomatoes, chopped
- 1 small red pepper, chopped
- 1 small green pepper, chopped
- ½ lemon
- 3 green chillies, chopped
- 4 tsp ground cumin
- 2 tsp paprika
- 1 tsp ground ginger
- ½ tsp ground turmeric
- 150 ml vegetable stock or water
- sea salt
- 1 small bunch coriander, roughly chopped
- 1 spring onion, finely sliced
Place the tagine (or frying pan) over a medium heat and add the olive oil. Once the oil is hot, add the onion and garlic, along with a pinch of salt. Stir and fry for about 10 minutes, until the onion is nice and soft and starting to turn brown at the edges. Meanwhile, measure out the spices into a bowl and set aside.
Zest the half lemon and chop the rest into about 5mm pieces, pith and all. Set the zest aside, but add the chopped lemon to the tagine with the onions, along with the red and green peppers, chilli peppers and another pinch of salt. Stir and fry for 1 minute, then add the spices. Stir for about 2 minutes until the spices start to stick a little bit, then add the tomatoes and stock (or water). Mix well, then taste. Add more salt as required; it'll take more than you think. Partially cover with lid, then turn the heat to low and cook gently without disturbing for 15 minutes.
Beat the eggs lightly in a bowl and add a pinch of salt. When the vegetables are almost dry, pour the eggs over the top and replace the lid. Cook for a further 5 minutes, or until the eggs are fully cooked. Finally, scatter the coriander, spring onions and lemon zest over the top to finish.