Beyond Curry: Anda Bhurji (Spicy Scrambled Eggs)
In Indian cuisine, scrambled eggs take on a very different avatar. The dish isn't the familiar yellow, mild, homogenized egg preparation you find on breakfast tables around the world. Scrambled eggs, or the Indian Anda Bhurji is just the opposite. It's a riotous mix of colors, spice, and flavors laden with butter and character.
Bhurji (spicy scrambled eggs) is made at home, but it's also a very popular street food. Some hawkers have fine-tuned its preparation to a dramatic event. Curious passers-by are instantly lured and loyal patrons watch mesmerized, as their orders come to life.
A wide flat frying pan (tava), almost a foot and a half in diameter sizzles away over dancing flames as a dollop of butter is slapped onto it. With deft fingers, an onion is chopped whole, first one way, then across in the cooks' bare hands—no chopping board—then into the pan. No fear. The same treatment for the tomatoes and the spicy green chillies.
This feat is interrupted by the sight of eggs being cracked mid-air into a bowl and whisked to perfection, before they sizzle and melt into the spices and butter on the smoldering pan. Then the eggs are worked with a spoon that looks very similar to a flat-edged spade; the egg mixture is violently tossed, pummeled and broken down into tinier bits of scrambled egg rubble. The metal spoon clanging against the cast iron pan gives this incredible sight a fitting, high-energy beat.
It's usually two eggs to a single serving and some die-hard eggoholics add a sunny side-up over the bhurji. Once the egg is scrapped off the pan and into the plate, pav (local loaf bread) is cut open, another sliver of butter is thrown onto the pan and the bread is vigorously rubbed into it to absorb any of the spicy eggy flavors that were left behind.
Bhurji is one of those dishes that is so widely loved, it has found its way to breakfast, lunch and dinner as a side, and sometimes as an in-between snack. And because the spice combinations used vary from region to region and home to home, every plateful of bhurji is a new discovery.