A real weakness of mine is a spicy breakfast. There’s a rapidly-depleting pot of green chillies in my fridge at the moment, which get most action round 8:00am. Sometimes they go in a spicy omelette, sometimes in spice-scrambled tofu. Neither of these follow strict recipes, but the gist is combining any odds and ends lingering about with chillies and turmeric.
The finest of all spicy breakfasts though is akoori (or akuri), which is a traditional Parsi dish. I tried it first in Mumbai, which is where lots of the Parsi community settled. They come from two Zoroastrian tribes who fled Iran during the Arab invasion in the 1600s, and migrated to South East Asia. Over the past four centuries, the Parsi community has developed a distinct identity, and a unique cuisine which combines traditional Gujarati and Maharashtrian flavours with Iranian ingredients like cinnamon, barberries pistachio, saffron and raisins.
The best place to try some of these dishes is in one of the Parsi cafes in Mumbai (or in Dishoom which is a UK chain which takes inspiration from Mumbai’s Parsi cafes). In the 1950s, there were around 550, but now only 20 or so remain. There is an air of faded glory about them, but no matter that the wallpaper is peeling or if the decor is a bit dated. The food is incredible. When I was there this time last year, I ate akoori at any given opportunity, and have since replicated it whenever there are some eggs, tomatoes, shallots and chillies in my fridge.
Akoori: Parsi Scrambled Eggs
1 knob of butter
1 shallot, thinly sliced
pinch of chilli pepper
pinch of turmeric
1 green chilli, sliced
1 tomato, diced
10 fresh coriander leaves, sliced (+ a few more to garnish)
3 eggs, loosely whisked
Salt, to season
- Melt the butter in a pan on a low heat. Add the shallots and slowly cook until they turn soft and translucent.
2. Add a pinch of chilli pepper and turmeric, and stir so the shallot is coated.
3. Add the chilli to the pan. Then add the tomato and coriander leaves and cook for 2-3 minutes, until the excess moisture of the tomatoes has bubbled away.
3. Still on a low heat, add the eggs to this fresh-spicy masala and cook as with any scrambled egg, stirring occasionally.
4. Season with salt and garnish with the remaining fresh coriander.