We call it anda bhurji’: How the Indian subcontinent discovered Persian khagina and made it its own
Whilst the team at Marcellus hails from various parts of India and obviously has representatives from all of India’s great religious faiths, we are united by our love for good food & drink. Analysis of food in Marcellus comes second only to analysis of stocks. Preparations for any celebration are preceded by elaborate discussions on which of India’s great cuisines will take centre stage at the said celebration. In that spirit – of celebrating India and its exquisite cuisine – we highlight Ms Chatterjee’s piece on “khagina”, a scrambled egg preparation found all over the subcontinent:
“Minakshie Das Gupta’s The Calcutta Cookbook describes a khagina that is made with roasted or boiled eggplants mashed with boiled egg yolks and a host of spices and then cooked on mellow heat until the mash leaves the sides of the pan. Finely chopped boiled egg whites, garam masala and paste and green chilies are stirred in, and the dish is finished with a sprinkle of coriander leaves. This recipe was contributed by Swarupa Das, the granddaughter of freedom fighter Chittaranjan Das. In an essay on Das’s wife, freedom fighter Basanti Devi, her grandson, former West Bengal chief minister Siddhartha Shankar Ray, wrote that khagina was one of his grandmother’s signature dishes and she would take it to her husband when he was in prison….
One of the most famous versions of khagina is served in Hyderabad and it is called Hyderabadi Ande ka Khagina. A whole different ball game, it is neither an omelette nor a scramble. Onions are allowed to sweat in oil, minced garlic, ginger, lots of tomatoes and spices (cumin, coriander, red chili, turmeric and garam masala) and cooked to an unctuous mush. Into this fiery masala, raw eggs are broken in and allowed to cook. Technique is crucial here. The eggs are allowed to cook before being gently turned, nudged around and only lightly broken down to create a texture that is reminiscent of the soft, crumbly magaz or brain curry. Gourmets say Hyderabadi Ande ka Khagina is best paired with flatbread or Khichdi, a one-pot dish of rice and red lentils.”