Quick Weekday Egg Biryani
On a busy day, I turn to eggs. You know that from here, don’t you? I can eat them for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and crack a couple for dessert if I feel like it. But the reason I really, really love them is that they cook so quickly and lend themselves to so many flavor combinations, adding nutritional value as they go along. This recipe is something I cook up when I barely have time to breathe (which is often enough). It gets prepped as you shower or attend to other important things, and the cooking is a breeze.
And yet, it is surprising how so little effort can cook you up such a voluptuous dish, bursting with flavor. If you’re like me, you will enjoy the bits of green chili that I like to throw in, just to up the reading on the spice meter; but if you skip it, the sky will not fall on your heads either. Of course, feel free to also skip or replace a spice or two here and there according to how lazy you are to get to the spice jar. The fried onion is there because a biryani seems incomplete without it; however, if you don’t have the time or the inclination to slice and fry, just skip it. I eat it this biryani with a portion of cold, plain, natural yogurt–it makes for a simple and gratifying meal. If you’re pressed for time this week, just stock up on eggs, and you’re good to go. Ideal for a hot family dinner after a long and tiring day. Especially if it is cold in your part of the world right now.
Note: Don’t get intimidated by the number of ingredients; they’re all pantry staples, and they don’t need any further processing, so to speak. I’m sure they’re within arm’s length from your stove.
Quick Weekday Egg Biryani
- 1 cup rice
- 3 eggs
- 1 medium-sized onion, sliced (optional, but recommended)
- 1 medium-sized onion, cut into big pieces
- 2 medium-sized tomatoes, cut into big pieces
- 3 cloves of garlic
- 1/2 inch piece of ginger
- 2 green chilies, finely chopped
- 1 small bunch of cilantro stems, finely chopped (optional)
- 1 tsp. cumin powder
- 2 tsps. coriander seed powder
- 1/2 tsp. garam masala powder
- 1/4 tsp. turmeric powder
- 1/2 tsp. red chili powder
- 1/2 inch piece of cinnamon
- 2 cloves
- 3-4 black peppercorns
- 1-2 green cardamom pods
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 small bunch of cilantro, chopped
- 1 small bunch of mint, chopped (optional)
- 2 and 1/2 tbsp. neutral-tasting oil such as sunflower/rice bran oil
- Salt to taste
- 1/2 tsp. sugar
- Put the eggs on the boil. When hard boiled, peel and halve the eggs.
- In a rice cooker, pressure cooker, or large, thick-bottomed pot, place the rice, 1/2 tbsp. oil, whole spices (cinnamon, cardamom, peppercorns, cloves, and bay leaf) and 2 cups of water.
- Add salt to taste and cook until almost done. The water should have evaporated. Fluff up using a fork.
- Fry the sliced onion until golden brown and crispy. Remove and drain.
- Place the ginger, garlic, chopped onion, and tomatoes in a blender and grind to a coarse paste.
- Heat the 2 tbsp. of oil in a large wok or similar utensil.
- Add the green chilies and chopped cilantro stems. Fry for barely half a minute, until fragrant.
- Tip in the ground paste and cook until the oil separates.
- Add all the ground masalas–turmeric, red chili powder, cumin powder, coriander seed powder, and garam masala. Cook until the powderiness disappears.
- Salt the paste, estimating for the eggs and the paste itself. Remember, you have already salted the rice.
- Add sugar to help caramelize the flavors.
- Tip in the rice, halved eggs, fried onion,chopped cilantro and mint, and toss lightly. Cover, reduce the flame to minimum, and cook for a few minutes, just to help the flavors to mingle. Serve piping hot.