This dish always reminds of a young man I met in the late seventies in Beirut. I was taking an art class at the School of Fine Arts and he was the model. Faysal was a couple years older than I was and had had to quit elementary school to help his family. His dad worked in the Beirut harbor as ‘ataal, carrying shipments on his back. He had 12 siblings. We became friends and would roam the streets of old Beirut neighborhoods talking non-stop about art, his current and future writings (he wanted to become a playwright) and the cultural life in Lebanon in general. He was completely self-taught. He knew a lot of underground artists and introduced me to a few of them, all politically active in one party or another. One day, he took me to visit his mom. The family lived in a one room shack in a deserted lot. The roof was made up of corrugated metal. She was sitting on a folded mattress and was warm and jovial. She proceeded to make us bayd bel-banadoorah on a one-plate gas burner that was propped up next to her on a couple concrete blocks.It was delicious and we ate with gusto, using some markook bread ( a homemade thin bread) to sop up the juices. I was humbled by that experience, because I had never before met anyone so poor.
This dish is in homage to women like Faysal’s mother who despite extremely harsh circumstances keep a smile on their face and the courage to plow forward.
3 eggs (or more)
2 large onions
1/4 cup of olive oil
6 garlic cloves mashed with 1/2 teaspoon of salt or 1 Tablespoon of toom
12 large tomatoes, skinned (dip in boiling water for 15 seconds) and chopped up or 1 large can of Italian tomatoes, cut up
A dash of mint or basil, sprinkled on top
- Heat the oil in a skillet. Add the onions and fry them for 15 minutes until golden. Add the tomatoes, cut up with their juices. Heat the mixture gently for 15 minutes. Add the garlic at the end and stir to distribute throughout.
- Break each egg in a small container. Make a large opening in the tomatoes using a wooden spoon. Drop the egg in it. Proceed with the second egg and so on. Up to 6 eggs can be used generally.
- Place the skillet in a 350F oven (180C) or cook on top of the stove for about 15 minutes, until the whites are set.
- Sprinkle with some mint or basil and serve hot or at room temperature, with pita bread on the side. Sahteyn!
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