In the summer, when tomatoes are abundant in our garden and whenever we are tired of tofu scramble, potato hash, or quiche for brunch, we like to make a vegan Chakchouka.
I first tasted this dish in a Moroccan restaurant in France when I was a teenager. It came served bubbling hot in a cast-iron skillet with 2 fried eggs perfectly cooked on top of a fresh tomato stew with herbs and chili. This dish is also called Tchoutchouka, there is obviously more than one spelling since it is served in different countries. It was so simple and yet full of flavors and colors. It was also my first taste of hot spices in the form of chili paste called ‘harissa’. I remember it as if it was yesterday. I was so intrigued by this novelty, a small dish with a red paste in it that before anyone could warn me, I had eaten a whole teaspoon! What a discovery! French food is essentially devoid of hot spices so I had to wait to experience Moroccan food to taste the heat and that was a game-changer! It opened the door to so many culinary adventures at home and overseas! And to this day, there is always a jar of chili paste in the fridge or on our dining table!
Tchatchouka is essentially a simplified ratatouille with a fried egg on top. This dish is a popular breakfast or brunch in most of the Maghreb region of northwest Africa that borders the Mediterranean sea and includes Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya, and Mauritania. It can be served hot or cold and makes the best appetizer when spread on slices of toasted bread, like bruschetta but with a little extra kick from the chili.
You may wonder what the word “Chakchouka” means or where it comes from. It is from the Berber language and simply means “mix or melange”. The Berbers were originally nomadic tribes but today, they are mostly farmers and merchants who trade by camel caravans in the desert.
Since as vegans, we do not consume things that come from someone’s rear end (sorry for the visual but it is what it is!), we had to experiment to get something similar in texture. We first used tofu cut in circles and that worked ok but it was a bit like a slab and we didn’t have anything for the egg yolk and beautiful golden color. After experimenting with JustEgg, sweet potatoes, butternut squash puree, we discovered that we could also make a fried egg using tofu and yellow mong bean. How about that!
More recently, I watched a video from Chez Jorge, Planted, where he made fried eggs using 2 mixes, one for the white and one for the yolk. Wow, the result was amazing in terms of resemblance to fried eggs. It is a little more elaborate but well worth it. It is a delicate operation that requires the right pan and heat to come out perfect. The flavor was pretty right on thanks to Indian black salt (a.k.a Kala Namak). Once you try it and get the hang of it, you will be making all kinds of fun dishes!
Chakchouka with a vegan fried egg
- Cast iron pan
- Cookie ring
- 1 medium onion diced
- 3 cloves garlic chopped
- 4 large ripe tomatoes
- 1 tsp paprika (sweet or smoked)
- 1 tsp sea salt
- 1 tsp black pepper
- 1-2 tsp chili paste
- 1/2 cup cooked cannellini beans
Vegan Egg white
- 1 cup plain non-dairy milk
- 5 tbsp cornstarch or arrow root
- 1/4 tsp black salt
Vegan Egg Yolk
- 1/2 cup silken tofu or mash potato
- 1 tbsp nutritional yeast
- 1/4 tsp turmeric powder
- 1/4 tsp black salt
- 1/2 tbsp cornstarch
- 1 tbsp vegetable oil (avocado or olive oil)
- 1/2 cup finely chopped fresh parsley
- 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh cilantro (optional)
Prepare the stew
- Chop the onions and mince the garlic.
- In a cast iron pan or a heavy skillet, heat up 1 tbsp of oil, add the onion, then the garlic and cook on low heat for a few minutes.
- Add the tomatoes, the salt, pepper, paprika. Cover and simmer for 10-12 minutes
Prepare the vegan egg ingredients
- In a medium bowl, add all the ingredients for the egg white and whisk well to dissolve the cornstarch.
- In another bowl, add the ingredients for making the egg yolk and mix well. The result should be a thick but smooth paste.
- Taste and season as needed.
Prepare the garnish
- Wash, pat dry and chop the fresh parsley and cilantro and set aside.
Make the vegan egg
- While the stew is cooking, in a non-stick frying pan on medium heat, place a small laddle of egg white liquid in the cookie ring and let it cook for a minute.
- Before the egg white is fully cooked, place a small spoonful in the middle and cover for another minute.
- NOTE: Do not attempt to remove it before it is done and comes off the pan or you risk breaking it.
- When the vegan egg is done, gently slide it on top of the stew.
- Sprinkle with the chopped fresh parsley and cilantro and serve immediately.