Archive for the ‘recipes: breakfast at home’ Category

Sam Sifton’s creamy scrambled eggs are a revelation. After trying them, I truly have difficulty imagining how I ate regular, tougher scrambled eggs. These eggs are satiny and bright with lemon and the mildest bite of silky scallion.

We make these fairly often, mostly on lazy mornings in Alibaug, when the sun is too strong to do much besides recline and read, or submerge in the pool. These eggs take minimal exertion but to get them right, it’s still important to pay close attention. We pour the egg mixture into the pan and with our wooden spatula, make pretty swirls by pushing them all over the pan while they cook on low heat, but as soon as the first curds form, we add the lemon-cilantro mixture, swirl for another minute, and turn off the heat. The eggs continue cooking in their own heat, you see, so over cooking them in the pan will lead to the type of torn, rubbery eggs I can’t believe I ever ate. A little vigilance on a weekend morning produces such rewards.

We pair these with Sifton’s hash browns; Hrishikesh loves the idea of cooking in ghee (clarified butter). He wants to cook everything in ghee- literally, everything. I try to prevent him from doing this. Sam Sifton was having trouble making hash browns without burning his potatoes and asked the chef at Henrietta’s Tavern, Peter Davis, the secret behind that establishment’s “thick and crusted, brown and nutty” hash browns. He replied: ghee. Hrishikesh did a victory dance when he heard this. A victory dance for ghee lovers everywhere.

“Butter is a fat: a stick of milk solids bound with emulsified oil, suspending some water,” says Sifton, who explains that when you heat butter in a pan, it first foams, then browns, then finally, burns. He learns from Davis that by clarifying the butter- (removing the milk solids)- you can “heat the butter to a higher temperature without burning, make it hot enough to crisp your potatoes and allow the sugars within them to caramelize, to turn into crust.

These hash browns in ghee are buttery and crispy. (Recipe for clarifying butter is below. Or, you can probably find ghee at a specialty store like Whole Foods or an Indian or Pakistani grocery).

Scrambled Eggs with Lemon and Green Onions (or scallions)
adapted (liberally) from The New York Times

2 tablespoons ghee or unsalted butter
4 green onions, white and green parts finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon chopped cilantro
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon lemon (or Indian lime) juice
6 large eggs
4 tablespoons milk

1. Heat 2 tablespoons ghee or butter in a nonstick pan until hot and foaming. Add the green onion, lower the heat, and cook gently for two minutes, then add the garlic, cilantro, salt and pepper, stir carefully to combine and cook for another minute. Add the lemon juice and cook for 30 seconds more, then remove the contents of the pan into a small bowl, and do not wipe off the pan.

2. Break the eggs into a small bowl, pour in the milk and mix together. Heat the pan on high for a minute, pour in the egg mixture, reduce the heat to low and stir gently with a wooden spoon. Continue to cook slowly, until the eggs begin to form into curds. Add the lemon-scallion mixture and continue to cook for an additional minute or so, until the eggs are pillowy. Season to taste. Serves 2.

Hash Browns cooked in Ghee (Clarified Butter)
from the New York Times

4 medium potatoes

7 tablespoons unsalted butter

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper.

1. Peel the potatoes and place them in a large pot of cold water. Set over high heat and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium high and cook until you can poke a bamboo skewer through a potato, 40 to 50 minutes, being careful not to overcook. Drain and set aside to cool and dry completely, preferably overnight in the refrigerator.

2. Meanwhile, clarify the butter by melting it in a small saucepan over medium heat. When foam forms, use a spoon to remove and discard it. Cook, skimming, until the butter stops bubbling. Take care not to brown it. Strain through a fine sieve or cheesecloth and reserve. You should have about 5 tablespoons.

3. Heat a cast-iron or heavy-bottomed pan over medium-high heat. Grate the potatoes on the large side of a box grater into a medium bowl. Season with salt and pepper and mix lightly. Add 3 tablespoons butter to pan, swirl until it begins to melt and add the shredded potatoes. Cook until golden brown and crusted on the bottom, almost (but not quite) burned in parts, about 15 minutes.

4. Use a wide spatula to flip the potatoes, or quickly invert the pan onto a dinner plate and gently slide them back into the pan. Add remaining butter around the sides of the potatoes and cook the second side until golden brown, about 10 minutes. Cut into wedges or spoon onto plates. Serve with eggs, grilled meats, toast and plenty of jam.

Serves 6. Adapted from Peter Davis at Henrietta’s Table, Cambridge, Mass.


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out of season rainy day in mahabaleshwar

out of season rainy day in mahabaleshwar

Another Monday. It’s only 9 a.m. but the day already seems oddly long, perhaps because H. woke up four hours ago to catch a flight. He’s out of town for the day and although he’ll be back tonight and always works during the weekdays, today, strangely, it seems like he’s gone so far. I feel like I have all these hours stretching in front of me and I think what I will do is this:



organize my bookshelves by category
collect the artwork I would like to frame

clean our bedroom

walk in the park, when it becomes cool and dark

stretching her arms in relief

stretching her arms in relief

These piles of books, the red nail polish sitting on the  TV speaker, H.’s papers, the lotions and hair clips and camera wires that clutter my bedside table, the honey jar and aromatherapy oils on the DVD shelf, the forgotten boxes of old gifts lying around, all of it will go today. I hope.


But first, before I start this sorting and throwing and arranging, let me tell you about Jaisinh mama‘s baked omelette, because, like the sun, it’s cheerful. And I need a bright spot on a day like this, a long, gray, spring-cleaning day. Also, we ate this omelette twice this past week (once for dinner and once for breakfast) and have decided that it’s the best. omelette. ever.

Hrishikesh and Mama hopping stones on a walk

Hrishikesh and Mama hopping stones on a walk

Jaisinh mama, my dad’s uncle, lives in Bombay but spends about half of every month in Mahabaleshwar. He’s mighty cool (keep in mind, he’s old- he’s my grandmother’s brother). He’s a talented gardener, painter, and cook; he reads a ton and takes three hour walks everyday; he listens to Indian classical music in the mornings and evenings and volunteers with the youth and farmers in Mahabaleshwar. His strawberries, cherry tomatoes and sun-dried tomatoes are known to be the best in Bombay. He even supplies sun-dried tomatoes to Bombay restaurants like Moshe. A wish: I want to be like him when I grow up.


Jaisinh mama’s baked omelette is quite famous, for an omelette. All of his friends and family have eaten it, and people discuss it, too, when out: “Jaisinh uncle’s omelette is really good, dude,” said one of H.’s friends. It’s reknowned enough that Upper Crust, India’s most well-known food magazine, wrote a piece on him and his omelette recipe. Whenever H. and I go to Mahabaleshwar we try to meet mama for a walk. If we’re lucky, he’ll invite us to stay for a baked omelette breakfast.



I don’t like regular omelettes, made in frying pans, because they are heavy. I feel like a lump after eating one. But this baked omelette- or baked egg dish, I should say, since omelettes are usually made with butter or oil in a pan, is fluffy, light on oil, and chock-full of vegetables. Each slice oozes with delicious bits of asparagus and pepper, juicy tomato, and smooth, salty cheese. You only use oil to sautee the veggies and brush the baking dish, and if you didn’t add any cheese, this omelette would be really healthy. But we love cheese and added a solid handful of creamy goat’s milk cheese cubes to ours.


We’ve made some changes to Mama’s orginal recipe* but this omelette is still so simple. Beat some eggs and mix them with chopped, sauteed veggies, cilantro and a small amount of soft, mushy rice. Mama adds the rice to his omelette to give it body while keeping it light and easy to digest. Pour the mixture in a baking dish, top with cheese and chilis and olives if you like, and bake for about 20 minutes, until the omelette is just set.


Jaisinh Mama’s Famous Baked Omelette
adapted from Jaisinh Mariwala
serves 2 as a main dish (although H. and I have unsually large appetites so maybe it could serve 3. It could definitely serve 4 as a side dish).

5 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup overcooked, mushy rice (boil rice or use day-old rice and then add 1/2-1 cup more water and let that boil away until the rice resembles porridge)
1 cup chopped vegetables of your preference, in 1/4 inch pieces (we used onions, scallions, cherry tomatoes, mushrooms, red and yellow bell peppers, asparagus, and both sun-dried and regular tomatoes)
1-2 cloves garlic, sliced
1-2 Tbsp. cilantro, chopped
1 handful of cubed cheese of your preference (we used goat’s milk cheese and it was perfect, creamy, and not too mild)
2 Tbsp. of olives
1-2 green chiles, sliced into thin rounds
olive oil

1. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F, and lightly brush a round baking dish with olive oil.

2. In a skillet, pour a little oil and wait for it to heat up. Sautee your vegetables of choice- I usually start by sauteeing onions and garlic, then adding the peppers and asparagus, and finally, the mushrooms and tomatoes (but not the sundried tomatoes). You can add and subtract whichever ingredients you like or dislike; for example, you don’t need to use garlic, or mushrooms, although I think the omelette is infinitely more tasty because of them.

2. In a large bowl, combine the beaten eggs, sauteed veggies, chopped cilantro and mushy rice. Add salt and pepper and mix well.

3. Pour omelette mixture into baking dish. Top with cubed cheese, sliced olives, and green chiles.Bake for 15-20 minutes, until just set. Let cool for a couple minutes before serving slices with toast, jam, cheese, and mustard.

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Batata Powa (or poha, as it’s called in Hindi) is a Gujarati dish made of fluffy flattened rice (powa) and potatoes (batata). Light, lemony and flecked with shredded coconut and tiny black mustard seeds, this dish is ideal for a simple and savory weekend lunch; in India, it’s often eaten for breakfast.


Batata powa is colored a pretty yellow with the addition of little turmeric, or haldi. A few weeks ago, my father lent me The Garden of Life: An Introduction to the Healing Plants of India, by Naveen Patnaik. The book, which is fascinating AND beautifully illustrated, explains the medicinal benefits of various spices, herbs, and roots used in India, according to the principles of Ayurveda. About turmeric, it says that in addition to its coloring properties, the root also provides relief when suffering from gastric disorders. According to a comment left on the blog Sepia Mutiny, when they were discussing the Ayurvedic properties of turmeric, it is also a great hangover cure; maybe this explains why the only time I crave heavy Indian food is after a night of partying.

[Powa, or flattened rice, on the left. Neem, or curry leaves, and cashews, on the right. ]


1/2 pound of powa (flattened rice). Powa/poha is readily available at Indian grocery stores.
1 cup chopped cilantro
1 medium tomato, diced
1 large onion or 2 smaller onions, diced
1 cup shredded coconut
2 boiled potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1 inch ginger, shredded
1 long green chili, sliced into thin rounds
juice from 2 limes
1 rounded tsp. black mustard seeds
1/2 tsp. asofetida
1/2 tsp. turmeric
8 tsp. sugar
1 handful of curry leaves
3/4 cup peanut/vegetable/safflower oil

Wash the powa thoroughly in very cold water about 3-4 times. Place in a colander to let water drain out. Do not squeeze the powa, which will be inflated from the washing.

When the water has drained out, place powa in a large bowl, and gently mix with the tomatoes, cilantro, coconut, ginger, sugar, and lime. Add salt to taste. Set aside. The mix should look something like a snowy garden of vegetables and fluffy rice:


Heat a large pot over medium heat, and add the oil and mustard seeds. Cover pot with lid until mustard starts to pop and sputter, about two minutes.

Add the curry leaves, green chili, asofetida and onions. Cook the onions on medium heat for one minute; then turn heat to low and let them cook until they become translucent. Add salt to taste.

Add the potatoes and turmeric and stir. Pour in the flattened rice mixture, stir once and cover pot with lid for 2 minutes, over low heat. Turn stove off. Serve with chutney.

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On Saturday morning I was craving avocados and Lisa wanted the forgotten Brie shivering in her fridge, so we drove to the grocery store, bought a tomato and an avocado and two bagels and constructed open faced sandwiches in the sun.


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