Breakfast or bust: Eggs in a Spicy Chickpea Purgatory

Eggs in a Spicy Chickpea Purgatory

I’m the kind of person who can eat anything for breakfast. While I love sweet treats like sticky buns, home-baked scones or granola, I’m just as inclined to reach for something savory of a morning. I know people for whom this would be impossible; anything remotely salty passing their lips before noon results in stomach aches and dramatics. Oh well, more for the rest of us.

I also eat a lot of eggs. I think most vegetarians would agree: once you stop eating meat, the humble egg becomes exponentially more important to your diet (unless, of course, you’re vegan). As an excellent source of protein as well as a quick-cooking convenience food, eggs are versatile little superstars in my kitchen.

It stands to reason then, that I eat a lot of savory egg dishes for breakfast. Fried with homemade baked beans, scrambled with chilies and cheese or in an omelette with mushrooms and herbs. I’ve never been too fond of the poached egg, though. My reaction to cooking an egg in boiling water, without the delicious addition of butter, herbs or even salt and pepper, has always been: whats the point? Healthy- yes, but interesting? No.

Then I discovered Eggs in Purgatory, a delicious-sounding dish in which the eggs are poached in tomato sauce and garnished with parmesan cheese and basil. I say delicious-sounding because I’ve never made it; tomato sauce might be more interesting than water, but it’s not really enough to tempt me. What did tempt me was an Indian dish I came across in an Anjum anand cookbook several months ago. Her description of poached eggs in a spicy, gingery tomato sauce leaped out at me, and I filed the idea away in my mind.

Last week, I withdrew it; Andrew and I woke up hungry, and luckily everything I needed was at hand. In an effort to make this more of a meal, I added a can of chickpeas to the sauce. The result is a bit like a vegetarian curry with an egg on top: strange in theory (at least for some of us), but wonderful in reality.

Note: I’ve categorized this as a Breakfast, if only because we ate it as that. I’m well aware that curry-for-breakfast isn’t many peoples’ idea of a good time, though. Luckily this would make a delicious dinner.


Eggs in a Spicy Chickpea Purgatory

serves 4

  • 2 Tbs. butter
  • 1/2 a large onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1″ chunk of ginger, minced
  • 1/2 tsp. chili flakes
  • 1 tsp. garam masala
  • 1/2 tsp. chili powder
  • 1/4 tsp. sea salt
  • 1/4 tsp. sugar
  • 2 cups passatta (or canned tomatoes, puréed)
  • 1 x 400g can of chickpeas, rinsed and drained (about 1 cup home-cooked)
  • 4 eggs
  1. Heat the butter in a heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat. When it foams, add the onion, garlic, ginger and chili flakes and cook for 4-5 minutes, until soft and translucent.
  2. Add the garam masala, chili powder, salt and sugar and cook for another 2 minutes. Add the passata and bring the mixture to a gentle simmer.
  3. Add the drained chickpeas, cover and turn the heat down to low. Cook for 20 minutes, checking and stirring every 5 or so until the sauce has thickened.
  4. Using a potato masher or the back of a spoon, gently crush the chickpeas so that roughly half of them split and break down.
  5. Make 4 indents in the top of the sauce with the back of a spoon. One at a time, crack the eggs into a small bowl and slide them into these spaces. When all eggs have been added, cover the pan and cook for 3-4 minutes. They are done when the whites are set but the yolks still soft. Serve as-is, or with toast or crusty bread.
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