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Scrambled eggs are to dinner what those greige sweats are to your wardrobe: You turn to them in dire straits; you sink into them late at night, over the weekend, when no one is watching.
How many times have we said just that, throwing shade on scrambled eggs as the quintessential sloth-person's dinner? How many times have we felt the need to defend eggs as a legitimate, non-breakfast meal choice? As if eggs need our defending!
Scrambled Eggs Patia cannot be (and do not need to be) legitimized in the way we normally shrug off the scramble. Make these because they're creamy and fiery and deserve as much time as a roast chicken—not because they're fast and easy (...they're not).
The eggs take an hour or so, start to finish; they require some ingredients you may not have on hand (tamarind, a hot chile, a slew of spices, cilantro); and I wouldn't recommend them as late-night, I'm-sorta-drunk food. And then there's the real hiccup: That you'll have to stir these in a hypnotic figure-eight motion for 15 minutes (maybe more). But don't run away yet!
Inspired by Chef Floyd Cardoz, who serves a version at his restaurant Paowalla in New York, the recipe is proof that time and care given to eggs is worthwhile. And that scrambled eggs can be real life, non-sloth-person, company-worthy, proud-of-yourself dinner. No defense case necessary.
The dish starts with a base of sweet sautéed onions (use caramelized onions if you're the kind to keep those in the fridge and at the ready). In goes a paste of garlic, ginger, fresh chile, turmeric, cayenne, and chili powder, followed by diced tomatoes (use fresh when in season, canned at other times). Those are cooked down, then bolstered with tamarind paste for a tangy-sweetness, a touch of jaggery (or, in my case, brown sugar), and vinegar. Lastly, the eggs, whisked just so that the yolks break, are eased into the tomato mixture slowly. So slowly. Fifteen to twenty minutes later, they're delicate curds (curdlets? curdies?), so soft that they'll melt into a bowl of rice or practically scoop themselves onto flatbread.
And with almost no resemblance to your 5-minute, desperate-times scramble.
For the spice paste:
- 1 jalapeño (less spicy) or serrano (more spicy), stem and seeds removed
- 2 garlic cloves
- 1-inch piece peeled ginger
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
- 1/2 teaspoon ground chile powder
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne
For the finished dish:
- 1 small onion, diced
- 1/4 cup canola or other neutral oil, divided
- One 15-ounce canned diced tomatoes, drained
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon tamarind paste
- 1 1/2 tablespoons vinegar
- 1 teaspoon brown sugar or jaggery
- 12 eggs
- Black pepper
- 1 cup roughly chopped cilantro, plus more for garnishing
A few notes:
- This recipe calls for twelve eggs, which is so many eggs! Feel free to halve the recipe, but keep a close eye on the eggs, which will (obviously) cook in less time.
- Are leftover scrambled eggs controversial? They've weirded me out in the past, but since these have so many flavors going on and are the farthest from rubbery as scrambled eggs come, they're actually great the next day. (I ate them cold from the fridge. Please don't shun me.)
- Low heat is very important, since you want the eggs to cook super slowly. I had most success when I put the largest pan I own on the dinkiest burner in my kitchen (a sight to behold!). We had trouble using induction, as the heat didn't seem to go quite low enough.
- And, just to circle back to the sweatpants for a second: The rise of "athleisure" and patterned exercise tights just goes to show that, while we long for sweatpants, we still find the best kind—the baggy ones with the busted waist elastic that your legs swim around in—as unacceptable public-facing clothing. So we compromise with the form-fitting, Neoprene-like stockings that make us look like a bunch of scuba-diving seals. Long live the loose sweats.
Tell us: Do you think an hour for eggs is too long?