Be it sunny side up, fried or just plain boiled, eggs have always been a healthy option.

So, you have learnt to identify foodstuffs, learnt about equipment and measurements. To go forward, you need to familiarise yourself with the cooking range and the fuel used. You see, cooking gas is one of the best discoveries of the last century. It is, fast, clean and easy to handle, once you have learnt to use it properly and safely. If not, it can be dangerous, it can be a suffocating gas, if unlighted, and leaking and it can be as efficient as a bomb in your kitchen! Please take care and learn to use it from an experienced person. Other fuels are electricity and kerosene. Electrical equipment like cooking ranges, ovens and microwave ovens can be used for cooking. Once again, care should be taken to use them properly. Thankfully, kerosene ranges are getting to be obsolete!

The basics

In the beginning, learning from a cook who is adept important. Once you have learnt the rudiments, it will be possible to follow standardised recipes from books and magazines. Visual cookery lessons from TV and CDs are helpful too. Have you heard of the book Samaithu Paar or Cook and See by Meenakshi Ammal. The instructions given are as though she is standing next to you! It maybe slightly out-dated, but it is very traditional too.

So, let's begin! Since we are talking of survival skills, we'll start with the easiest. i.e., with eggs. whatever dish is made with eggs, you can eat it with bread/butter and top it up with a vegetable salad and fruits, curds and a dessert, to make a complete meal.

Common egg preparations: are boiled egg (soft, medium and hard boiled), poached egg, scrambled eggs, omelette, and fried egg.

Boiled eggs

Eggs can be boiled to three degrees, Soft, Medium and Hard.

Soft boiled eggs will have a runny yolk and partly-set white. Medium will have well-set white and partly-set yolk, while hard boiled eggs are fully set.

Method

Plunge the eggs into a pan of boiling water.

Simmer for 2mins for soft boiled

Simmer for 3 – 4 mins for medium

Simmer for 6 - 8 mins for Hard boiled.

Wash with cold water for each type, after removing from fire so that the egg stops cooking.

Over boiled eggs have an unsightly green/grey covering on the yolk which can be avoided when boiling stops at the correct time.

Hard boiled eggs can be used in many recipes.

Poached Eggs

Cooked directly on boiling/simmering water, or by using a poacher. A tsp of vinegar added to the water, helps retain a better shape.

Both these methods do not need butter or fat for cooking. Hence are the healthiest ways of eating eggs. Just sprinkle salt and pepper, and eat along with tomato wedges.

Scrambled Eggs

Ingredients

Eggs 2

Milk 2 tsp

Butter/oil 20g

Salt and pepper 1 tsp each

Method

Break eggs into a bowl, add milk, salt and pepper and beat well. Melt the butter in a flat saucepan, add the beaten egg and cook on a slow fire, stirring lightly till soft cooked. Remove from fire and serve immediately on bread toast.

Variations

Onions, vegetables, mushroom, ham and bacon may be added.

Our Indian version is ‘burji' with chopped green chilli, green coriander, tomatoes or any other spice added.

Omelette or egg dosai

Ingredients

Eggs 2

Onion 1 tbsp

Green chilli 1

Green coriander 1 tbsp

Jeera, 1 tsp

Salt 1 tsp

Tomato 1 tbsp (op)

Method

Break the eggs into a bowl, beat well and add the chopped ingredients. Heat oil in a saucepan and add the beaten mixture. Swish the mixture around the pan. When the mixture starts setting, fold it in half and cook for 1 min. more on a low flame. Serve hot with bread toast.

Use your imagination to add other vegetables and fruits to make variations. Omelettes can be used for breakfast, for lunch, for garnish and as a snack.

Fried egg

Ingredients

Eggs 1 or 2

Oil 1 tsp

Salt and pepper

Method

Heat the oil in a saucepan, break the egg directly into the hot oil. Cook for less than 1 min on each side. When cooked on one side, with the egg yolk partly set, it is called ‘sunny side up'

Eggs cook very fast and coagulate with heat; hence they should be cooked slowly and on a low flame. They are a ‘saviour' to a ‘quick menu' plan.

The author is Dean, Academy of Fitness Management, FitnessOne.

Keywords: foodstuffscooking

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