My Dad can cook only one dish ! (sorry Dad...but thats the truth!) On Sundays (it's the weekly holiday in India) , he would love wearing his chef's cap and get into the kitchen before anyone could. My Nanny, whom we fondly call 'Bua' was used to this routine and would give her extra special knowing smile which said “ We know what’s for breakfast today!” and retreat to her corner.
My Dad would bark orders to do the mis-en–place , that is, the prep work of cutting the onions and tomatoes into roundel’s, take out the utensils he needed and chop the coriander finely.That’s all you need for this tasty and amazing egg dish.
Dad in his kitchen on Sunday...
He then would start cooking..the only dish in his cookbook..as far as we know! – the most famous dish –AFGHAN EGGS. I don’t know why this name came about but he did spend some months during his school holidays in Kabul where my grandfather was posted , so there must be a connection?
My Dad was unlike other Dads..or the Dads whom I knew of. He had no inhibitions of entering into a kitchen and would spend a lot of time with us, and I have lot of fond memories of travel, shopping , conversations and a whole lot of activities with my Dad. By the way, Dad’s of the 80’s were very very unlike the “hands on” Dad’s of today.He still is always ready to travel and explore new ideas …places…and food!
So this simple dish has a very special corner in my heart and I cook it even today on Fridays (that’s the Sunday of the Middle East!) to keep the tradition alive:) for my husband and myself …my children are still hung over their plain simple omelettes and boiled eggs. I will slowly introduce this wonderful dish to them in the coming years. I cook it for him …I cook it to be near home.
Coming back to our home in Delhi, the entire kitchen would be at a standstill while these special eggs were being cooked.The moment he would place the lid on the pan for the eggs to cook slowly…would be like the finale...the secret was a thin film had to coat the egg yolks while cooking to make it look glazed . While serving the eggs, it should slide down the pan on to the serving dish without breaking! Then you would deserve the admiration…according to him.
He would anyway see that in our hungry pairs of eyes! and we had to applaud.
My Dad at work with his ingredients..
My dearest Bengali Nanny..Bua ..whose kitchen has been invaded..the look say it all!
This is the way ...how its done!
For us, at least 6-7 eggs would be cooked since we couldn’t stop at 1 egg per portion!
For this breakfast, we would just need hot toast and the great Afghan Eggs.:)
Yes, you have to be cautious of the cholestrol levels...
And here is his recipe…Gorge in!
Afghan Eggs in a pan .. well done
Afghan Egg for 1...on my favourite platter
Afghan eggs for 2 with pita bread
Preperation time: 5 min Cooking Time: 10-15 mins
2-3 medium sized red tomatoes
2-3 medium sized red onions
3 tblsps Oil
Salt and pepper to season
1. Heat oil in a pan . Slice onions and tomatoes and add.
2. When they start to cook, break all the eggs into the pan and garnish with coriander leaves on top very generously.
3. Sprinkle some water on the sides of the pan .
4. Cover and cook on slow flame for it to cook in its own juices.
5. When a thin white film starts to coat the yolks ,that’s the time when the eggs are cooked just right.
6. Take the pan off the fire and slide the eggs (yes, they must slide down) onto a platter.
7. Season and enjoy with hot buttered toast
After savouring my favourite style of eggs, I knew that there were other styles of eggs made by different communities which would be favourites! I have a very dear Parsi friend, Parizad, who so graciously invited me to their beautiful home in Dubai to taste Akuri, pronounced as 'A-koo-ree'. This is a spiced creamy scrambled egg which is a twist on the regular scarambled eggs.She told me that these are eaten as a meal in itself and can be eaten at any time of the day, not necessarily for breakfast !
Akuri at my dear friends Parizads home
This again, is a very very simple recipe and it varies from household to household..some put ginger in their recipes, some put turmeric..
There are many versions like the Bharuch Akuri which originated in Gujrat ( a western state of India) and Egg Khagina ,eaten in Pakistan , all scrambled eggs..made to taste.
Akuri with hot buttered toast
Preperation time: 5 min Cooking Time: 5-7 mins
1 medium sized chopped red tomato
1 medium sized chopped onions
2 finely chopped green chillies
3 tblsps milk
1 tsp turmeric (haldi)
3 tblsps Oil , can use olive oil
Salt to season
1. Heat oil in a pan . Add finely onions and tomatoes and green chilled.
2. Whislk all the eggs in a bowl and add it to the pan.
3. Add the turmeric and cook.
4. Add milk to make it creamy.
5. Season , garnish with chopped fresh coriander and enjoy with hot buttered toast or pavs (soft buttered buns).
After tasting these amazing versions of eggs, I set out in Dubai to find yet another dish that would satisfy and delight my taste buds in the morning. I had heard about a cafe / restaurant open in Al Qouz , called Tom and Serg which did great breakfasts and coffee. I did'nt need a push to go there.
Its a huge warehouse converted to a food place. I grabbed myself a table and was give a menu , thankfully not that long and I spotted what I wanted in a minute.
It was the Shakshouka baked eggs. As I waited for my breakfast, i sipped my coffee and enjoyed the ambience of the eatery ..
And then, the Shashouka arrived ....
Accompanied with sourdough bread...absoulutely divine.The mix of the tomatoes, mozarella cheese and eggs with the hint of cumin was dukkah was perfect.
Shashouka is a staple of North Africa, particularly in Tunisia.Tunisian cooks would add broad beans, artichoke hearts and potatoes and is often said to have challenged falafel and hummus as the favourite dish. Its a popular breakfast item in Isreal too.
Another popular belief is that it was invented in the Ottoman Empire and spread to the Middle East and Spain. There are many versions some making it with onions,peppers and salty cheeses...but the tradtional shakshouka consists of the basic version of tomatoes,garlic, paprika, hot peppers, poached eggs and olive oil.
It was quite a big portion but I enjoyed it till the last bite.The exotic mix of flavours was very pleasing and matched perfectly with the eggs... As I left Tom and Serge , I had a feeling I will be back for more .....