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Delicious: Just the way it is.
Delicious: Just the way it is.

VASUNDHARA CHAUHAN

There are many ways to cook eggs; they are versatile in character. So read on.

Omelettes are not made without breaking eggs.

- Robespierre

EGG-ACTLY! What is it about eggs that makes us go weak at the knees? I blame my mother. First, for forcing me to eat them when I hated them and was running late for school, and then, for discovering the dreaded cholesterol word and banning them. By which time it was too late — I was much older, a mother myself, set in my eating habits, and my relationship with eggs had become so significant that I would go to bed fantasising about how I’d have my egg the next morning.

There have been innumerable studies on the benefits and/or cholesterol-inducing properties of eggs. I read each one I come across, hoping to find the definitive one that says, absolutely incontrovertibly, that it’s good for the mind, body and soul to eat as many eggs as possible. In the meanwhile, I have two a week.

In everything

But look at the Parsis. They eat everything with eggs: bhindi with eggs, potatoes with eggs, eggs with eggs — the dish just gets named something-something per eeda. Recently, in Mumbai, a friend told me how her family friend, a known philanthropist, lay terminally ill in hospital. The doctors had warned him to change his eating habits. So he cut down food drastically and was now eating, he complained, only twenty-four eggs a day!

There was an old man of Madrid

Who ate 65 eggs — yes, he did!

When they asked, “Are you faint?”

He replied, “No, I ain’t —

But I don’t feel as well as I did!”

The great Larousse Gastronomique proclaims that eggs are “a nourishing and perfectly balanced food, fairly low in calories (76 cal per 100 g); they supply all the amino acids essential for human nutrition and are easy to digest provided they are not made up into rich dishes. Fried eggs are fairly digestible if they are not over browned in the butter or fat in which they are cooked.” And Davidson, the ultimate authority on food describes an egg as “the astonishing and unintentional gift from birds to human beings, the acme of food packaging…” But aren’t the poet’s reasons more compelling?

She thinks of fried eggs: of their round delicate centres,

Of bacon fat, of butter caramelising around the edges.

How everything that is buttery and fried is comforting.

She thinks of fried eggs: of their round delicate centres,

Of bacon fat, of butter caramelising around the edges.

How everything that is buttery and fried is comforting.

(From Aphrodisia, by Elizabeth Bruno)

There are so many ways to cook eggs that it’s quite difficult to select one or even two recipes. From breakfast eggs to soufflés, eggs rock. But Nargisi Kofta is worth describing, simply because it’s so Indian, with all the spices, and yet so egg-y.

Nargisi Kofta

Serves 4-6

500g minced mutton

1 onion, roughly chopped

10 cloves garlic, peeled

2-inch piece ginger, chopped

2 sticks cinnamon, 1-inch each

4 green cardamoms

6 cloves

1/2 tsp whole peppercorns

1 tsp red chilli powder

2 tbsp chana dal

Salt

1 egg

8 hardboiled eggs

Oil for deep-frying

Mix minced meat, onion, garlic, ginger, cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, peppercorns, red chilli powder, chana dal and salt in a pressure cooker. Add 1/2 cup water and cook till tender. (On high heat till full pressure is reached, then on low heat for 10 minutes.) Open and cook, uncovered, till remaining moisture, if any, evaporates. Mince mixture should be dry. Grind to a smooth paste and add one raw beaten egg. Stir well to mix. Divide mince paste into 8 equal portions and flatten into thin discs. Place a peeled, hardboiled egg in the centre of each mince disc and wrap mince around neatly. Deep-fry till golden brown. Slice lengthwise and serve hot, with lemon wedges and sliced onions, or simmer in a korma and serve them curried.

Mayonnaise

A staple in the kitchen, it makes a salad creamy, a sandwich moist and rich, and, when I need a sauce for fish or chicken, provides a base to which one can add colour or flavour.

For some reason most people have stopped making it at home and buy it in sealed jars instead. I don’t know how raw eggs can have a shelf life — but maybe the commercial mayonnaise doesn’t contain eggs. There are many recipes that call for more yolks than whites, but I never know what to do with extra white lurking in the fridge.

This is a recipe I learnt before any other — I don’t know what my mother was thinking — is this any preparation for setting up a new household? But it’s foolproof. If the worst happens and mayonnaise curdles or just remains stubbornly thin and runny, pour it out, wash the blender clean, break in another couple of eggs, and use the “bad” mayonnaise instead of oil.

Basic Mayonnaise

Makes 2 cups

2 eggs

2 tbsp malt vinegar

1 tsp salt

1 tsp freshly ground pepper

1 tsp dry mustard powder (optional)

1 tsp sugar

2 cups (or less) vegetable or olive oil

Break eggs into a clean, dry blender jar. Add vinegar, salt, pepper, mustard and sugar. Blend at high speed for 3-4 seconds. Start pouring in the oil, about 1/2 cup at a time.

Keep blending at high speed. When the sound changes and becomes deeper and slower, the mayo is almost ready. Now pour in about a spoonful at a time — more will not get absorbed. Transfer to a glass jar with a lid and refrigerate — mayonnaise will thicken with chilling.

Vasundhara Chauhan writes on food, and is based in Delhi.


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