On World Egg Day (October 14), TNIE reporter Arya U R embarked on a eggsploration, chatting up with chefs and foodies
Eggetarian a vegetarian who eats eggs is a term that’s all set to enter global dictionaries. Such is the popularity of eggs. In Kerala, the love for egg puffs, omelettes and mutta roast is a Malayali trademark.
The spicy egg roast is a quintessential charmer in traditional Kerala breakfasts, clubbed with appam, idiyappam or puttu. Some may opt for a quick omelette or bull’s eye with slices of bread. The ‘gymmers’ usually go for raw or boiled eggs with milk and, maybe, a banana.
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Lunch, for some, is incomplete without an omelette or scrambled eggs. And there are perfectionists who turn grumpy if the boiled egg is missing from the biryani. Without the egg, they maintain, the package is incomplete.
“From my experience as a chef, and working across the globe, I have found Malayalis have a soft corner for eggs,” says celebrity chef Suresh Pillai, who explores ‘traditional delicacies with a twist’ at his Restaurant Chef Pillai at Le Meridien, Kochi.
“The egg is in between veg and non-veg. Many people like to add it along with their daily breakfast; in fact, any meal of the day. Especially in the southern half of Kerala, the majority prefers egg roast or curry with appam, idiyappam or chapati.”
These are days of ‘variety’, and a top hit is the mutta appam. “Mutta appam or egg hopper is a Sri Lankan dish,” says Suresh. “It’s basically a hopper with a bull’s eye on top. It’s a healthy pick, and children love it,” says Suresh, whose masala cheese omelette is legendary.
The love for eggs is often linked to nostalgia. On a personal note, the chef adds, eggs remind him of the lunch box prepared by his mother. “In olden days, many households had hens, so eggs were an essential part of our lunch menu,” he says. “Also, it was a custom to consume ‘vaattiya mutta’ (half-boiled egg), which was considered an immunity booster.”
An omelette, Suresh says, remains one of the easiest, yummiest quick fixes when one is famished. “It also used to be a meal-time delight for non-vegetarians who could not afford fish or meat,” he adds.
“Amma’s omelette, a coconut chammandi and a mezhukkuperati were a luxury lunch combo for me, and many of my generation.”
Suresh recalls his mother’s recipe: Eggs beaten well with finely chopped shallots, green chillies, red chilli flakes, pepper and a pinch of salt, beaten well with two cracked eggs. It is poured on a hot, coconut-oil-brushed dosa tawa. Finally, the omelette is folded and packed in a steamed plantain leaf.
“Bliss!” he exclaims. “The smell used to be so tempting that, many times, I have gobbled the omelette on my way to the school.”
Executive chef of the Hilton Garden Inn, Thiruvananthapuram, Asmic Raj says he consumes eggs once every two days solely for the nutrients, especially protein. Among his top picks are the American ‘egg Benedict’ and Italian ‘frittata’. “From my experience of over 15 years as a chef, I have found an increasing preference for the egg as a meal, sometimes as a mainstay of the meal,” he says.
“These days, many Indians opt for a quick eggy breakfast with a glass of fruit juice. The introduction of eggs in mid-day meals at schools is also to ensure protein intake, and boost overall development of children.”
Toast with eggs — fried, scrambled or poached — and two pieces of sausage or bacon is a delicious breakfast in vogue among health-conscious youngsters, says chef Arun Vijayakumar of Thiruvananthapuram.
“French toast with an omelette or scrambled egg, too, are popular breakfast or brunch combo these days,” he adds. “Only 30 per cent of the egg should be cooked, as per Western tradition. But here, some people don’t like runny yolks.”
Kochi-based home baker Sunayna Millath says eggs play an important role in giving “that perfect texture and taste” to cakes and cookies. “In cakes, it gives the fluffiness and in cookies, the crispiness,” she says. “Also, some children may refuse to eat eggs. In such cases, adding eggs to healthy home-baking recipes, or even puddings, will ensure they get a weekly dose of eggs.”
Malabar cuisine, especially snacks, is known to have generous quantities of eggs. “In snacks, there is mutta marichath, mutta madakk, mutta mala, kilikoodu, mutta kebab, and egg cutlet. We use eggs even while making chatti pathiri,” says Malappuram-based home chef and vlogger Shabna Hasker.
Mutta marichath is a popular ‘sweet omelette’, with sugar, crushed cardamom and dry fruits roasted in ghee. Sounds great, let me go try!
Minny Abraham, home chef, Kanjirappally
Quail Egg Puffs
- Quail eggs: 10
- Onion: 2 sliced
- Ginger: 1 chopped
- Garlic: 3 chopped
- Tomato: 1 chopped
- Chilli powder: 1tbsp
- Coriander powder: 1 1/2tsp
- Garam masala: 1 tsp
- Pepper powder: 1/2tsp
- Turmeric powder: 1/4tsp
- Curry leaves: Chopped
- Salt: As required
- Coconut oil: 2 tbsp
- Puff pastry sheet: 1 store-bought, cut into small squares.
- Egg: 1 beaten (for egg wash)
Boil the quail eggs & keep them aside. Heat oil and add curry leaves, chopped ginger and garlic. Sauté for a minute. Add onions and cook till it’s soft. Add all the masala and salt. Add tomatoes and cook till it’s mushy. Place about 1 tbsp of masala on the square puff pastry sheet and place 1 hard-boiled quail egg on top and bring all the corners together to seal. Apply beaten egg all over the sealed puffs. Bake in a preheated convection oven at 210c for 20- 25 minutes or until the puff pastry is golden colour.
- Poached eggs: 2
- For curd spread
- Curd: 1 cup
- Garlic: 1 clove grated
- Salt: As required
- For chilli butter
- Salted butter: 2 tbsp
- Paprika powder: 1/2 tsp (or Kashmiri chilli powder: 1/2 tsp)
- Garlic: 1 clove grated
- For garnish
- Dill leaves: 1 tbsp, chopped
Take a pan and melt the butter and add grated garlic. Saute lightly. Add the chilli powder and switch off the flame.
Mix curd spread and place in medium bowl. Top with poached eggs, pour chilli butter. Sprinkle dill leaves. Serve with toast
Asmic Raj, executive chef, Hilton Garden Inn, T’Puram
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- Eggs: 2
- Clarified butter unsalted: 125 gm
- Bacon/ham: 2 slices
- English muffin: 2
- Egg yolk: 2
- Avocado: 20gm
- Salt: A pinch
- Pepper: A pinch
- Tarragon vinegar: 4-5 drops
- Parsley: For garnish
- Cherry tomato: For garnish
Melt butter on low heat. It will separate to make a layer of clear golden fat (clarified butter) on top. Remove the fat from the top. Keep the clarified butter in a warm place. Crack the egg yolks in a stainless steel bowl with vinegar, salt, and 2tsp of cold water and whisk for a few minutes. Set the bowl over a pan of simmering water. Remove and slowly whisk in the clarified butter. Squeeze lemon juice in, season with a pinch of pepper and salt. On the side, boil a large pot of water, reduce flame to low. Crack the egg in a small bowl then slowly pour the eggs into the pot and poach for 2-3 minutes. Once the egg is done, use a slotted spoon to remove the poached egg and keep it. Then toast English muffins. Place cooked bacon/ham and avocado on top of the muffin. Keep the poached egg on top. Pour the Hollandaise sauce on top of the poached egg and serve.
- Egg: 6
- Cheese: 30 gm
- Olive oil: 20 ml
- Capsicum: 50gm
- Mushroom: 50gm
- Onion: 30gm
- Tomato: 30gm
- Olives: 25 gm
- Salt: A pinch
- Pepper: A pinch
- Cream: 30 ml
Crack eggs into a mixing bowl and add a pinch of salt and pepper. Whisk with cream and keep aside. Place a small nonstick frying pan on a low-heat. Pour olive oil into the pan, add vegetables and sauté. Then pour the egg mixture into the pan over the vegetables. Stir gently and fry. Add cheese on top of the mixture. Place the pan in a hot oven for about 5 minutes or until it turns to golden colour and is fluffy. Remove from oven and cut to your desired shape. Serve immediately with salad.