Easter Sunday: Everything about egg hunting ritual & egg-themed dishes

Eggs are an inexpensive source of protein and contain all the essential Vitamins, minerals, and amino acids

By Beyniaz Edulji  Published on  31 March 2024 3:30 AM GMT
Easter Sunday: Everything about egg hunting ritual & egg-themed dishes

Hyderabad: Happy days are spent on Easter searching for Easter eggs. Eggs can be made of white, dark, or milk chocolate, with soft centers or marzipan…the list is endless.

One of my earliest memories is that of painting faces and different kinds of scenery on hard-boiled eggs for the harvest festival of Navroz celebrated by Parsis and Zoroastrian Iranis in the Persian New Year tradition on the spring equinox which falls on March 21 every year.

A table full of different kinds of delicacies would be laid at the exact time of the Equinox, and the time would change each year. The centre piece would always be a basket or glass bowl full of painted and decorated boiled eggs. Perhaps that was the start of my fascination for all things egg-shaped or flavored with eggs. I have spent many hours admiring the gorgeous collection of jeweled Faberge eggs at the Hermitage in Saint Petersburg. I have also spent many pleasant days in the kitchen using eggs as a garnish or main ingredient. Even when I was balancing all my weight on an Ostrich egg at an Ostrich farm on being told that it is impossible to break this egg when it is kept standing, all the while I was wondering how large would an omelet of this egg be and how it would taste!

Eggs are an inexpensive source of protein and contain all the essential Vitamins, minerals, and amino acids; they are rich in Vitamin A, Vitamin B6, B12, folic acid, iron, and Calcium but excessive consumption of dishes containing eggs is not advised for those with high levels of cholesterol. This can be avoided by substituting the white of an egg instead of the whole egg to make dishes where eggs are necessary. I cannot begin to think of making mayonnaise, pancakes, cake, or custard without egg. For me, breakfast does not feel like breaking the morning fast unless I can break an egg to kick-start my day. Fried, scrambled, or poached, they are just as delicious. Omelets can be in the form of a Spanish omelet, egg fuyong with fried shrimp or slivers of chicken, shallots, and green ginger tucked in, or a ‘Parsi Pora’ which is a masala omelet made with chopped onion, green chilies, green coriander, ginger, garlic, dry coriander and cumin and a dash of turmeric and red chili powder or even grated raw mango in season. The Parsi ‘akuri’ a kind of ‘anda bhurji’ is another favorite to be eaten for breakfast or even as a side dish at lunch or dinner. Indeed, many a dish in the Parsi cuisine is made with eggs so we have dishes like eggs on tomato, eggs on okras, eggs on spinach, eggs on potatoes, and even eggs on ridge gourd. The vegetables are first prepared according to one’s family recipe and then the eggs are either beaten with salt and pepper and poured on top of the dish and baked until they are set or small hollows are made in the vegetable dish and eggs are gently broken and put in these and the whole dish is then baked.

Mughlai dishes like tomato cut (tomato gravy) have boiled eggs in them and Hyderabad Biryani, whether it is made with meat or chicken is garnished with boiled eggs. Sometimes Haleem is also topped with half an egg. Egg fried rice, egg curry, and egg salad all have eggs in them as do some Chinese soups. Scotch eggs and devilled eggs are made with boiled eggs. The rather piquant pickled eggs are commonly served in most British pubs. They are boiled eggs, peeled and stored in vinegar and sometimes beetroot juice to give it a red color much like pickled onions but they are seasoned to taste with cinnamon and brown sugar, sometimes just with ground pepper and salt. A personal favorite of mine is an egg cutlet made out of chopped boiled egg, thick white sauce, and cheese, shaped and rolled in breadcrumbs and shallow fried. Some drinks like egg-nog have eggs in them as do some sauces like hollandaise.

Perhaps the most egg-treme egg dish I have tasted was made out of a hundred-year-old egg in China where they preserve hen, duck, and quail eggs in clay. The clay is said to harden around the eggshell and preserve it. The first time I had a century egg; it was served on slices of tofu. The shredded ginger and shallots decorating it and the spiced sesame oil and soy sauce drizzled on it did not disguise the fact that the egg had turned a peculiar greenish-brown in color. I felt it was overrated. The second time I ate this egg, it was mixed in rice and chicken congee. As for the flavor…well, it tasted like it was a hundred years old and was not really to my taste!

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