This recipe is for traditional Afghan-style breakfast eggs, which are cooked in a sauce of onion, tomatoes, and chili, absorbing the complementary flavors. As with most Afghan meals, particularly breakfast, fresh naan breads served on the side are essential. Afghan breakfast spreads also typically include shir chai, a traditional milk tea that, with its dairy base, provides a calorie- and protein-rich start to the day.
My mother recalls having this dish for breakfast during family day trips, such as to Mazar-i-Sharif for the red tulip festival during the spring equinox. It would be made in a beautiful copper karayee, a shallow, heavy-based pan used in Afghan cooking. The karayee would be placed directly over a portable kerosene burner, where the eggs, vegetables, and spices would bubble away. The large karayee was then placed in the middle of the breakfast spread, surrounded by naans and various chais, for everyone to help themselves.
This is an easy dish to scale up, to feed as many guests as you need.
1 cup (250 ml) sunflower oil
1 large yellow onion, halved and thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
3 ripe tomatoes, halved and thinly sliced
1 moderately hot fresh red chili, thinly sliced
4 large eggs
1 teaspoon ground red pepper
Coarsely chopped fresh cilantro Leaves, to serve
Heat the oil in a medium saucepan over high heat and fry the onion and garlic for 5 minutes, or until softened and browned. Add the tomatoes and fresh chili, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the tomatoes have softened, but are still intact, then mix in 2 teaspoons salt, or to taste.
Break the eggs into a bowl then pour evenly over the tomato and onion mixture in the saucepan. Break up the yolks gently, if that’s how you prefer them, then cover the pan with a lid. Reduce the heat to low and cook the eggs slowly, shaking the pan occasionally to avoid sticking, for 5-10 minutes for soft, 10-15 minutes for medium-soft, or until the eggs are cooked to your liking. Sprinkle with 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, the ground red pepper, and cilantro, and serve hot-straight from the pan.
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Parwana: Recipes and stories from an Afghan kitchen
£20, Murdoch Books
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Shortlisted for the Andre Simon Food and Drink Book Awards 2020. See all the shortlisted books here.