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

Ingredients:

  • 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

Method:

  1. Put the eggs on the boil. When hard boiled, peel and halve the eggs.
  2. 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. 
  3. Add salt to taste and cook until almost done. The water should have evaporated. Fluff up using a fork. 
  4. Fry the sliced onion until golden brown and crispy. Remove and drain.
  5. Place the ginger, garlic, chopped onion, and tomatoes in a blender and grind to a coarse paste. 
  6. Heat the 2 tbsp. of oil in a large wok or similar utensil.
  7. Add the green chilies and chopped cilantro stems. Fry for barely half a minute, until fragrant.
  8. Tip in the ground paste and cook until the oil separates.
  9. Add all the ground masalas–turmeric, red chili powder, cumin powder, coriander seed powder, and garam masala. Cook until the powderiness disappears.
  10. Salt the paste, estimating for the eggs and the paste itself. Remember, you have already salted the rice.
  11. Add sugar to help caramelize the flavors.
  12. 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.