Saturday, May 22, 2021

Scrambled Eggs with Dates and Turmeric

Hi! It’s time for another recipe! This is a new recipe for me, and we’re pretty pleased with it. I think you’ll like it, too. Scrambled eggs with dates and turmeric is pretty much what it sounds like, but below I give you some tips.

If you’re wanting to put more turmeric in your diet for its purported health benefits, this is a great way to do so. At the same time, the turmeric makes the eggs look temptingly deep yellow, which is a boon if you’ve got store-boughten eggs that are otherwise rather pale.

First, however, credit where credit is due: I got the idea from one of my newer favorite cookbooks, Breakfast: The Cookbook, by Emily Elyse Miller (London and New York, Phaidon Press, 2019), where it’s called “Date Omelet” and is on page 47: “Dates are an essential ingredient in Persian cooking. The dates provide an unexpected sweetness to a simple omelet and the addition of turmeric adds a bright color and an earthy note.” (Phaidon has a really fun selection of these gigantic “[fill in the blank]: The Cookbook” cookbooks.)

. . . Yes, yes, yes. I don’t know much about Iranian breakfasts (though a friend of mine from Iran once told me that at his house, “It’s not breakfast without feta!”)—but I do know that one’s breakfast eggs can definitely go in a sweet direction with success. Among the many omelet variations commonly suggested in midcentury American cookbooks is a “jelly omelet,” which I’ve tried and found actually pretty good (though the folded-over version is a little sloppy, since the jelly or jam melts and turns into drippy syrup). And also keep in mind other sweet eggy dishes, such as French toast, and any kind of sweet custard preparation.

So, dates in scrambled eggs. In addition to turmeric, I like to add some coarsely ground black pepper, in order to further ground the dish and temper the sweetness of the dates. My version is not terribly sweet. Anyway, it’s not rocket science; you can alter it however you like. Here’s how I’ve been making it. Extra tips at the end.

Scrambled Eggs with Dates and Turmeric

  • 1/2 tsp. ground turmeric
  • 1 tbsp. water
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/4 tsp. coarsely ground black pepper
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 tbsp. butter
  • 1/3 cup dates, chopped (approximate)

In a little bowl, stir together the turmeric powder with the water to make a smooth mixture (no lumps). Crack the eggs into a small mixing bowl, add the turmeric mixture, black pepper, and salt, and beat with a fork to combine ingredients.

Heat the butter in a nonstick skillet to coat skillet. When it starts to bubble, add the dates and sauté for a few minutes; just get them heated up and coated with the butter. Pour the egg mixture carefully into the pan; let the eggs start to set, then lift the edges with a wooden or heat-proof rubber spatula and let the uncooked eggs run underneath; push the cooked eggs gently toward the center. Fold or turn over as necessary to get them cooked.

Serving suggestion: Serve with pita, naan, or other flatbread; a chunk of feta cheese; a few oil-cured black olives.

Tips and comments:

For breakfast, Sue and I usually split a three-egg omelet, especially since we’re having other stuff with it. You can adjust quantities however you want.

Mixing the turmeric with the water, first, to form a slurry ensures that the turmeric will blend evenly with the eggs; otherwise, the turmeric can form lumps that are hard to break up with a fork or even a whisk. You don’t need that kind of hassle—it’s too early in the morning to be muttering “dang it!”

The reason for the gentle pouring and folding of the eggs is to give it a prettier presentation, with the dates clearly separate from the eggs. You can stir it all around if you want, but depending on how finely chopped your dates are, or how much they break up during cooking, it might look kind of, well, vomitous.

The nonstick skillet is a good idea, since you’re heating dates. Dates vary in texture (dryness) a lot. When heated, they can get really syrupy, and their sweet goo can really stick to a skillet, if it’s not nonstick.

Choice of dates: it’s up to you. I find this is a good use for leftover pre-chopped cooking dates (the kind that look like little nuggets that are coated with oat flour or whatever). This would also be really good with high-quality, soft dates that are only halved. Pit them, of course.

I like how the saltiness of the feta and olives plays off the sweetness of the eggs.

Extra points for making your own fresh flatbreads.