An egg is one of the strangest food items that man sought to eat. It sits delicately atop the wall that separates the vegetarian from the non-vegetarian (not unlike Humpty Dumpty). For hardcore non-vegetarians, it is the one food which is not meat, yet they do not turn their nose up at. For vegetarians like me, who are on the brink of transgressing to the “other side”, primarily to satiate the foodie inside who wants to explore the much larger palette available, it is the one thing that helps us convince ourselves that we are better off than those who are pure vegetarians, since we have at least a wider variety of options to choose from than them.
For the “pure” vegetarians who cannot allow meat of any kind to set foot into their house, egg is the exception – a harmless entity that stays wrapped in its own shell and does not look unpleasing to the eye, so can be excused for stepping into their homes. Of course, once cooked, every attempt is made to get rid of its remains and the smell as soon as possible.
I come from a family of the latter-est kind. Egg was the exception. For my grandfather who was brought up in a household largely influenced by the pre-Independence British Raj, breakfast was incomplete without egg – boiled or in the form of porridge. His kids and their kids (that’s us) adopted the same habits. Over generations, that was the extent to which eggs permeated our kitchen – breakfast.
My first overseas trip, for work, was the first time I was exposed to the brilliance of an egg. Traveling to a Mediterranean country infamous for its lack of vegetarian food options, I was warned beforehand of the dangers I might encounter. Warned is an understatement, I was vehemently told to watch out for all the “danger signs” that indicated the presence of meat. By the end of the briefing, I could differentiate between every meal option available on the flight, every kind of meat, non-meat, dairy, non-dairy, etc. product. Smugly armed with all this information I was sure that I would make no “mistakes”. When I landed, I was in for a surprise. English was a “third” language in this country.
My first day at office, I skipped lunch and had an orange. The second day, I decided to venture into the cafeteria, and went over straight to the salad counter. That became my subsistence for the next week. The next Monday, I threw caution to the winds, and made my way to the dairy section, and I discovered what would become my obsession for the next 10 years – eggs. From potato and corn fritters, to the cheesiest omelettes, to shakshuka, latkes and frittatas, I realized egg dishes went far beyond the hard-boiled variety. The more I traveled, the more I discovered about this little wonder. And the more I discovered about it, the more I fell in love with it. It became my comfort food, the only food that would not make a reverse trajectory during my pregnancy, the only food which never ceased to wonder me each time I cooked it.
An interesting anecdote happened when I tried cooking my (now) favorite egg dish – frittatas, the first time. A bad cold and running nose, with no one to help me cook, meant that I had to turn to my obvious choice for comfort. I pulled out last night’s leftover veggies and mixed the eggs. Unaware that I was supposed to transfer the pan to the oven after the first couple of minutes, I waited for the egg in the pan to cook. After 10 minutes, the egg mixture was still wobbly, so I covered the pan with a dish, hoping to hasten the cooking. Another 5 minutes passed and I waited impatiently for the eggs to “set”, when I heard the bell ring. It was my neighbor checking what was burning in my kitchen (whose window faces her kitchen window). The poor soul knew I was ill and thought I had gone to sleep leaving the stove on. Of course, I couldn’t smell a thing! Though the contents of the pan were charred and almost 70% of it had to be thrown out. Unfazed, I ate the remaining 30%!
Over the years of course, I have improved my skills at making frittata, after numerous burnt ones and a couple that went to the dog (who loves it btw). On the way I added a few twists of my own and they still remain my favorite.
Recipe for Frittata
- 6 Eggs
- 1 Onion, diced
- 1 Tomato, diced
- 1 Capsicum, diced
- 1/2 cup corn (boiled and drained)
- 1/2 cup macaroni (boiled and drained)
- 1/2 cup shredded cheese
- 1 tbsp Oregano and basil seasoning
- 2 garlic cloves (grated)
- Salt according to taste
Note: Vegetables can be replaced with leftovers that have been sauted to remove water.
- To prepare the egg mix, whisk the eggs, seasoning and salt together.
- Saute all vegetables in a pan with a little oil over medium heat to remove water. Sprinkle some salt and seasoning over the sauted vegetables and mix.
- Sprinkle the cheese over the vegetables. Alternatively, you can add the cheese to the egg mix.
- Pour the egg mix over the vegetables and make sure it covers the pan evenly.
- Let it cook for a minute till you see the edges turning golden.
- Pop the whole pan into the oven and bake till the eggs are set and are no longer runny. For an extra cheesy twist, sprinkle some more grated cheese on top before baking.
- Take the pan out of the oven and let it cool for a couple of minutes. Then cut it the way you would cut a pizza.
Serve with a side of salads, or with garlic bread and butter.