Summers have begun and how! With temperatures already soaring high in March, I can only imagine how hot it is going to get by the time May arrives! With the heat, come suggestions about how to beat the heat! One of the most common one being “to avoid eating eggs during summer” which I find particularly hard to follow because simply I love eggs!
An egg done sunny side up, sprinkled with some salt and pepper is my go-to every time I am hungry and need a quick snack or a boost of energy after a tiring workout! Egg is also a source of complete protein, which means that it provides all the essential amino acids needed for our body. The quality of egg protein is so high that it is used as a reference protein for all other protein sources. To avoid eating eggs during summer sounds more like an old wives tale. I haven’t yet heard of any scientific backing to this myth. In fact, athletes and people who engage in a lot of physical activity, include upto 6 egg whites in a meal, be it summer or winter! I see no harm in eating eggs whatever may be the season. However, if you are suffering from high cholesterol or any heart ailment, you should eat eggs only after consultation with your dietician or doctor. As long as you refrigerate them, eat them freshly cooked and restrict raw consumption. Infact, eggs and summer sound like a perfectly good combination to me!
Eggs are quick and easy to make but it is not limited to that. There is a lot more to eggs than just omelettes and half fries! Infact, they are so versatile that there is an entire cult of people who call themselves eggetarians. Eggs are one of the most flexible ingredients we can use in cooking. They are used in cuisines worldwide and practically in every course, right from breakfast to lunch to dinner and even in desserts.
Did you know?
•The egg shell is made of calcium carbonate and has tiny pores. The pores help to retain the moisture in the egg and also help in air circulation.
•Ninety percent of the egg white is made of water and the rest 10% is made of proteins. It helps to protect the egg yolk.
•Egg yolk is a rich source of fat. It is surrounded by the egg white. As the yolk ages, it absorbs the water from the egg white and increases in size. The yolk in a fresh egg is nice round and plump, whereas that in an old egg is flat.
It is very important that you get the cooking processes and times correct if you want to cook perfect recipes with eggs.
Eggs contain a good amount of protein and hence they should not be cooked for more than the required time. The protein tends to coagulate and if cooked for more time, it tends to become tough. If the eggs are boiled for more than 10-12 minutes, you can see a dark ferrous sulphide ring around the yolk. This occurs due to the chemical reaction between the iron in the egg yolk and the sulphur in the egg white. To avoid this, you can plunge the hard boiled eggs in chilled water to avoid carryover cooking or overcooking due to the internal heat of the egg.
Boiled eggs are made by adding whole eggs to cold water and then bringing it to a boil without a lid. It is important to ensure that there is not much activity in the vessel so that the egg shells remain intact and don’t crack. Some salt should be added to the water to speed up the cooking process and of course, for taste.
•Soft boiled eggs- Make sure that you have a pan of boiling water. Slip the eggs carefully with the help of a ladle so that they do not crack. Cook for 3-4 minutes. Remove, peel and use. In this case the egg white is firm and the yolk is runny.
•Medium boiled eggs- Add the eggs in boiling water with the help of a ladle and cook for 5-7 minutes. Drain, peel and use as required. In this case, the egg white is firm and the yolk is slightly less firm.
•Hard boiled eggs- The cooking time for hard boiled egg is about 8-10 minutes. Here the egg white and yolk both are firm.
Poaching of Eggs
Poaching is basically cooking the eggs in the hot simmering liquid. The egg is broken in a bowl and is gently slid into simmering water. The cooking time in this case is about 2 minutes, if the eggs are at room temperature. The yolk is runny and the white is firm. A little amount of vinegar is added to the water so that the water becomes acidic. This speeds up the process of coagulation of protein present in the white of the egg while the yolk is still runny. It also prevents the egg white from spreading too much, hence giving you a perfectly poached egg.
These are similar to our very own desi bhurji. The only difference is that unlike the bhurji, scrambled eggs are made without any onions, tomatoes and spices. The egg is beaten well to completely blend the yolk and white. It is then added to a pan and cooked till the mixture is not runny in texture. Generally milk/fresh cream is added to retain the moisture of the eggs and they are seasoned with salt and pepper. This is normally served with toasted breads.
Using these simple and basic methods, you can create many more egg-based recipes. Eggs are fast food in the literal sense, as they are fast to cook. Eggs are fuss-free and are widely used in several regional Indian dishes. Be it akoori, the Parsee equivalent of bhurjee or the egg rolls from Kolkata, the very Mumbaiya anda-pav or the egg masala of which every household in India has a special version.These are exactly the kind of dishes that bring out the beauty of an ingredient as simple as an egg!
While we are on the topic of eggs, I must mention about ‘The Faberge Big Egg Hunt’ that is on in London presently, as a part of the Easter celebrations. The hunt involves identifying the locations of 210 eggs hidden through London. All these eggs will be displayed together for the first and the last time at the Covent Garden during Easter. As part of the event, a charity auction of designer eggs was held where in they managed to raise an astounding 667,000 pounds, with some eggs being bought for as high as 70,000 pounds! Who would have thought that an event of this scale would be based on the humble egg? There is a song in a Bollywood movie which sings praises of this humble food item and says “aao sikhao tumhe ande ka funda, yeh nahin pyaare koi maamuli banda”. So sing this song aloud as you cook your favorite egg dish. And don’t be worried, it is very difficult to go wrong with eggs! The only difficult thing related to eggs is the answer to this question – anda pehle aaya ya murgi?