Parsi Eggs

Around the 10th century, fire-worshiping Zoroastrians faced religious persecution in Persia (modern-day Iran) and were forced to leave their homeland. India, known for its religious tolerance and inclusivity, welcomed the refugees. A large contingent were granted permission to land in Gujarat, thus founding the Parsi (Gujarati term for Persian) community in India. Today, Mumbai is home to the largest Parsi population in the world. They assimilated into Indian culture and British colonialism with great fanfare.

One of my good friends growing up was a Parsi, and most of my summers were spent at her family’s home in Mumbai. I experienced first hand the interesting cuisine that had developed from combining Indian ingredients with Persian influences and English touches. Parsis opened some of the first bakeries in India, creating everything from spice-infused cakes, buns and breads to curried pot pies.

Parsis are also well known for their love of eggs, and this recipe is an adaptation of one of their basic breakfast egg-and-potato treats. It’s a delicious, easy dish to serve your family during the holidays.

makes ~4 servings

ingredients

4 tablespoons olive oil or ghee

1 teaspoon mustard seeds

1 cup minced onion

1 medium-hot green chili pepper (such as serrano), minced

4 cups potatoes, diced into ½-inch pieces

1 tablespoon grated ginger

1 tablespoon dried fenugreek leaves

½ teaspoon turmeric

1½ teaspoon salt, plus more to taste

10-12 cherry tomatoes (optional)

5-6 large eggs

Cilantro, finely chopped

Your favorite toasted bread

 

instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In an 8-inch cast iron or an oven-friendly skillet, heat the olive oil until shimmering but not yet smoking and add the mustard seeds. They will pop and sizzle within a few seconds, then add the minced onion, serrano pepper and diced potatoes. Cook on medium heat until the potatoes have slight color and the onions are translucent, about 5-7 minutes. Add in ginger, fenugreek, turmeric, salt, 2-3 tablespoons of water and reduce the heat to medium-low. Cover the skillet and let it cook for another 5-7 minutes. The potatoes should be soft and cooked through.

  2. Add the cherry tomatoes (if some are big, slice them in half), then crack the eggs directly on top of the potatoes, spreading them over the pan. The whites will slide down in between the potatoes.

  3. Place the entire uncovered pan in the oven and set a timer for 3 minutes. Turn the oven off when the timer goes off and leave the pan in the oven for another 4-5 minutes for soft yolks and longer for hard. Sprinkle salt on the eggs and chopped cilantro over the rest and serve with toast.

ideas / variations

  • Any potatoes will work in this recipe — red, golden or fingerling hold their shape best.

  • Substitute potatoes with butternut squash.

  • Mushrooms or zucchini make a great addition when added to the mix just before cracking the eggs.

  • Leeks or green onions work well in place of plain onions.

  • Use 1 cup of chopped tomatoes instead of cherry.

  • Add diced chicken, sausage, turkey or bacon to the potatoes and onions during cooking for extra flavor.