GOURMET FILES Enjoying oats or moong for breakfast ensures health, but hi-calorie indulgence is an option too.
It is actually the breaking of a fast — the gap between dinner and breakfast can go up to 12 hours. So usually I’m famished, and all I have to look forward to is fruit and some artery-cleansing health food like oats or sprouts. Even poha, unless of unpolished rice, or sabudana, are low residue and useless. Unfortunately my household doesn’t run to fresh idli or roti at the crack of dawn, so that leaves me with rabbit food and, on a lucky day, kala chana.
But while I get ablutions out of the way, there’s no tax or raised triglyceride count on dreaming, so I think about puffy, golden three-egg cheese omelettes made in butter; poached eggs steamed in my parents’ special pan, which prevents the eggs from touching the water, but encourages you to add butter to the little steel egg-cups; and my “world best” favourite, two fried eggs, sunny side up, served serially and not together.
Sometimes the fantasy has variations. Bacon on the side, four rashers with melting fat and a chewy rind (where has that gone? No brand I’ve bought in the last 20 years has rind. Is it some kind of reconstituted?), fried so that it isn’t all crisp and crumbly. Or fat English breakfast pork sausages, bursting out of their casing and sizzling and sputtering even as they reach the table. Grilled half tomatoes, home-made baked beans, mushrooms and onions are optional add-ons and not integral to the vision, because those we’re allowed to eat anyway.
What happens while I’m dreaming on is that I smell another breakfast being cooked. Parathas. The cook likes them, so before I get to my virtuous, multi-coloured breakfast of kiwi fruit, watermelon, mango and papaya, or apples, pears and oranges, I’m forced to endure the aroma of atta being fried and to imagine it turning golden brown as it crisps. When he’s short of time he fries bread — but he’s healthy, so it’s multi-grain — in a wide puddle of oil and butter. The good part of that is that it smells wonderful — I’ve forgotten the pleasure of its taste — but the downside is the thick patina of annealed grease on the tawa, to remove which it takes a chisel and a harangue from this tetchy, deprived, fruit-eating old bat. Part of the sharpness comes from sheer deprivation because parathas are another favourite high on the disapproved-of list, but of those, another time.
So though the savoury component of breakfast is usually oats or a whole lentil, I’ve learnt to like the moong option. Dressed properly, it’s quite delicious. But once in a blue moon, there’s nothing like a fry-up.
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 potato, chopped small
1 red bell pepper, chopped fine
2 tbsp butter
Heat oil and butter in a large heavy bottomed frying pan with heatproof handle. Lower heat and sauté potatoes. Meanwhile beat eggs till light and fluffy. Whisk in a teaspoon of water (to prevent a burnt or “eggy” smell), salt and pepper. Stir in the chopped bell pepper. Add butter to cooked potatoes and pour in the egg mixture. Cook over medium heat till bottom is set. Cover and continue till cooked through and bottom is slightly browned. If the centre is still soft, grill under medium heat, for about five minutes.
HASH BROWNED POTATOES
4-6 medium potatoes
1/2 tsp red chilli flakes (optional)
Green stems of four spring onions
1 tbsp vegetable oil
Boil potatoes, making sure they are barely cooked, not soft. Grate coarsely and add salt and pepper. Chop spring onion greens into narrow one inch strips and mix with potatoes. Heat oil in cast iron skillet. Shape potato mixture into loose balls — do not compress tightly. Flatten and lower gently on to hot skillet. When the bottom browns slightly, turn over with metal spatula and cook other side. Serve hot when both sides are golden brown.
GREEN MOONG SABUT
1/2 cup sabut moong (mung bean, green gram)
1/4 tsp haldi (turmeric), optional
1/2 tsp oil
1/2 tsp sarson, mustard seeds
10-12 leaves curry patta
2 green chillies, seeded and cut into 1/2 inch diagonals
Juice of 1 lime
1 tsp sugar syrup (optional)
2 tsp grated coconut
Wash and soak moong sabut overnight in a large pan of water. In the morning, drain, rinse and boil. In a pan, add 1 cup water, salt and haldi. Boil till done, taking care to not let it get mushy. If water remains, drain out and discard. In a small frying pan, heat oil and sauté mustard till it splutters. Add curry leaves and turn off heat. Stir in green chillies. Add contents of pan to boiled moong and stir to combine. Cool dal mixture and mix in lime juice, sugar and grated coconut. Chill in refrigerator and serve.
GRILLED MUSHROOMS WRAPPED IN BACON
12 large mushrooms
12 rashers bacon
Wash and wipe mushrooms, retaining stems. Slice off any blackened bits. Wind one rasher of bacon around each mushroom, securing with a toothpick. Heat heavy bottomed pan. Do not add oil or salt. Place mushrooms-wrapped-in-bacon carefully in pan, in a single layer. Heat till bacon changes colour where it is touching the pan. Using tongs, turn each parcel so that uncooked sides come into contact with hot pan. Press down with tongs or metal spatula to ensure cooking and browning. When all sides are looking cooked and brown, remove to drain on absorbent kitchen paper towel. Serve hot.