Excerpted from Raghavan Iyer’s Smashed, Mashed, Boiled, and Baked.
Eggs and potatoes are the proverbial love and marriage among the Parsi community in western India. Originally from Persia (Iran), the Parsis fled around the tenth century after being persecuted by the Muslim rulers because they were followers of the prophet Zarathustra. They were welcomed in India, where they set up new roots and flourished as businessmen in the centuries that followed. Perinne Medora (her son, Zubin, is my webmaster), a Parsi from Mumbai now settled in California, talked about the prevalence of potatoes (called seb-i-zaminee, which literally translates to “apples of the earth,” just like the French pommes de terre) and eggs at every meal. This recipe, a family favorite over the years, is comfort food whenever Zubin stops by for a visit to Perinne’s home.
Persian-Style Potatoes and Eggs
- 2 pounds russet or Yukon Gold potatoes
- 2 tablespoons canola oil
- 1 small red onion, cut in half lengthwise and thinly sliced
- 8 slices fresh ginger (each about the size and thickness of a quarter; no need to peel first), finely chopped
- 1 or 2 fresh green serrano chiles, stems discarded, finely chopped (do not remove the seeds)
- 1 teaspoon coarse sea or kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon ground turmeric
- ¼ cup finely chopped fresh cilantro leaves and tender stems
- 8 large eggs
- Fill a medium-size bowl halfway with cold water. Peel the potatoes. Shred them through the large holes of a box grater, the fine teeth of a mandoline, or the shredding disk of a food processor. Immediately transfer the shreds to the bowl of water to rinse off some of their surface starch and to prevent them from discoloring due to oxidation.
- Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Once the oil appears to shimmer, add the onion, ginger, and chiles and cook them, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until the onion slices are light brown around the edges and the chiles smell pungent, 5 to 8 minutes.
- As the onion medley cooks, drain the potato shreds in a colander and give them a good rinse under cold running water to wash off the starch. Spread out several layers of paper towels on the counter, for drying the potatoes. Give the colander a good shake or two to rid the potatoes of excess water. Spread out the shreds on the towels and pat them dry, to make for splatter-free pan-frying.
- Stir the salt and turmeric into the onions. Add the potato shreds and give it all a good stir. Cover the pan and cook without stirring to allow the underside to brown lightly, 5 to 8 minutes. Flip the potatoes over (use two spatulas, one on either side—or if you have one large spatula, that works great, too) and cook, covered, on the other side for an additional 5 to 8 minutes.
- Break up the browned potatoes with a spatula to expose the softer, creamier shreds within. Sprinkle on the cilantro. Make 8 little concave “nests” in the potato surface. Crack an egg into each of these nests. Cover the pan and allow the eggs to cook, without stirring, until the whites are soft-steamed and the egg yolks are set but still sun yellow under the film of white, 3 to 5 minutes.
- Either set the whole skillet on the table as is, or gently scoop out a portion of potatoes along with 2 eggs per person. Serve warm.
About the Book:
Who knew a potato could ever taste so good? Raghavan Iyer, that’s who! A master teacher and beloved, award-winning cookbook author, Raghavan pays tribute to his favorite ingredient in a continent-by-continent celebration of the amazing potato. Its recipes, inspired by a diversity of cuisines and accompanied by enticing full-color photographs, feature scrumptious starters, like Ecuadorean Llapingachos and Sweet Potato Samosas. Hearty mains: Canadian Lamb-Potato Tortiѐre, Moroccan Potato Stew with Saffron Biscuits, Potato Lasagna. Plus rich gratins, a boundary-defying Mojito Potato-Pomegranate Salad, luscious sauces and condiments, and even desserts, including a decadent Chocolate Sweet Potato Pound Cake. Includes a guide to potato varieties, uses, and storage, plus fascinating stories in potato history for the truly obsessed.