Indian Breakfast Burrito

Ali gets up before me.  I started writing this saying that she generally gets up before me, and then I realized that I can’t remember a single instance of voluntarily getting up first.  Ali gets up before me.  I groan, flip over, and head back to sleep for either thirty minutes (during the week) or an hour (the weekend!).  The result is that we almost never eat breakfast together, and I often skip it entirely.  Occasionally, however, I make it into the kitchen in time to make a real brunch.  The result always reminds me that I love breakfast food, and it should grace our table more often than, well, the occasional dinner.  Brunch is amazing.

This post starts what I hope will be a trend– I want to blog enough that I am proactive and get up to cook brunch.  I’ve already got french toast planned for tomorrow morning (stay tuned), so I know it has worked at least twice.  One more data point and I’m declaring success.

As I mentioned last week, I have been experimenting with Indian cooking recently, courtesy of the wonderful Entice with Spice.  This recipe continues that trend, and indeed uses the standard core ingredients.  One onion.  One tomato.  A handful of spices.  Twenty-five minutes from start to finish, and serves three comfortably.

For the dish:

  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 tomato, diced
  • 1 serrano chili, sliced thinly
  • Between 1/8 and 1/4 tsp tumeric
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 4 eggs, beaten (see below)
  • Large tortillas

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Heat a thin film of oil in a medium skillet over medium heat, and add the onion.  Sauté for a few minutes, until soft but not browned, and then add the tomato.  Continue cooking until the tomato has softened, then add the serrano and spices.  Finally, pour in the eggs and cook, stirring frequently, until they have reached your desired consistency.  Serve wrapped in a warm tortilla, we use whole wheat.

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Before adding the eggs, tumeric leads to a beautiful pan. A little goes a long way.

For those of you who prefer fried eggs or runny yolks, the original recipe calls for cracking the eggs directly into the pan, breaking them up, and just cooking until set. I prefer scrambled eggs to most other varieties, so I have adjusted the prep, but it is up to you.

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So.  Eggs.

Eggs are truly wonderful, even if they are generally used for dinner in my apartment.  But what is happening as you watch your eggs go from a liquidy, goopy mess to a delicious, goopy scramble?

On a molecular level, 99.99% of an egg is water, surrounding a relatively tiny number of protein molecules.  Proteins are enormous biological molecules, consisting of countless small building blocks (amino acids) linked together to form a long chain.  In solution, however, these chains wrap themselves into a compact coiled configuration.  This is due to bonds that form between different points on the protein, tying them into a neat package and minimizing effective size.  Think of coiling up an extension cord for convenience sake.  Additionally, negative charges on the outside of the coils cause repulsion between separate protein chains, forcing them to spread out in solution.

When you heat an egg, two changes occur.  First, the coil-forming intramolecular bonds break.  This allows the proteins to unwind from a coil and transition towards a linear structure, and is called protein denaturation.  Once spread out, the proteins tangle together.  New bonds form between previously separate protein chains, and the resulting web solidifies due to increased bonding.  Now our extension cords are mixed together, and we all know how hard they can be to separate.  Water molecules find themselves incapsulated into small pockets, isolated and unable to flow together.  With enough heat, however, even these water molecules are expelled and boiled away, resulting in the rubbery texture of overcooked eggs.  Without water, the protein forms too many bonds and never wants to let go.

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