Mountain eggs get their name from my father because they give you the energy and stamina for a long day of cross-country skiing or hiking up mountains. That said, as long as you don’t go crazy with your portion size, I think these make a great breakfast most days, when you’re in the mood for something more savoury and substantial.
The essence of mountain eggs is the fridge forage: whatever leftovers and edibles that you have that would be tasty in a hash – baked potatoes, roast meat or cured, tomatoes, mushrooms, peppers – will probably be good in mountain eggs.
(Britons, can we talk about the fact that you have a fine tradition of roast dinners, but no related tradition of making hash for breakfast the next day? Bubble and squeak is tasty, but you are really missing a trick here.)
You cut up your leftovers into fairly equally-sized pieces and fry them off in oil or butter until heated through. You can add spice if you want – cumin and potatoes go especially well together – then add your eggs (two per person usually, three if you’re ravenous) and scramble. That’s it.
Mountain eggs were also my standby when I was cooking brunch for sixty women on Saturday mornings – seriously, who wants to flip sixty people’s worth of pancakes? It also won me the kitchen manager’s appreciation for not blowing out her budget.
What I made today is in the spirit of mountain eggs – a great day-off breakfast when you want something to keep body and soul together, but don’t need quite the same calorie load. This is spiced, flavoursome, and comforting as a granny’s hand-crocheted afghan.
Bhurji/Spicy Scrambled Eggs (adapted from Indian Kitchen: Secrets of Indian Home Cooking by Maunika Gowardhan)
Serves two with buttered toast or one on its own.
A pat of butter (or 2 tablespoons vegetable oil)
1/2 a large yellow onion, finely chopped
1 green chili, de-seeded and finely chopped
1/4 teaspoon turmeric
1/4 teaspoon cumin
1/8 teaspoon chili powder (or to taste – my chili powder may be more or less hot than yours)
2 handfuls cherry tomatoes, finely chopped
3 eggs, beaten in a separate bowl
Garnish: a pinch (as in make your hand into a pincer and grab) of chopped fresh coriander/cilantro.
Heat your cooking fat over medium heat in a small frying pan, or a medium saucepan if you only own large frying pans (*raises hand*).
Add onion, and fry until translucent and soft, 6-8 minutes. Add the chopped chili and stirfry for a minute, then add spices and a pinch of salt and stirfry for 30 seconds. (A really good piece of prep: measure all your spices and salt into a small cup/mug before you begin to cook. This saves you from doing the measuring-from-tiny-jars-of-spices-while-cooking-over-high-heat dance.)
Add your tomatoes and stirfry until they start to lose their shape, 2-3 minutes.
Add beaten eggs and stir with a vengeance until they’re cooked. Just so you know, these will not be the light and custardy scrambled eggs that are every French chef’s dream – this recipe makes ugly tatters and rags of egg. This is what you want!
Dish out, sprinkle with fresh coriander, and add a few dashes of your favourite hot sauce if you’d like.