Friday, April 8, 2011
Good @ Any Time: Sweet Potato & 2 Pepper hash with Fried Egg & Avocado
Growing up in Bangladesh, my first glimpses of America came from comics (I was tight with Archie & the gang), movies and tv shows and somewhere along the way I became enamoured with diners.
When I arrived in America, I sought out a real-live diner and there I discovered the joys of crispy hashbrowns, creamy sausage gravy over fluffy buttermilk biscuits, eggs dancing with spicy salsa. All the while, I soaked in the conversations going on all around me: men & women, young & old sharing laughs and stories over coffee and pie. It was the ultimate American experience.
Much of my college career centered around diners --early morning breakfasts after late night parties, cram sessions, dates, girl-talks. Then I graduated and landed my first full-time reporting job.
Single-Asian-Female alone in the wilds of West Texas. I love a good adventure, but I couldn't help feeling a bit lost. So I sought out a diner. The waitress called me "Honey" and all the old guys flirted with me. My first bite sealed the deal and I stayed.
Four years later, just as I got ready to leave West Texas, I met the Cowboy. One Texas-tornado of a romance later, we got married. Both history buffs, we chose the stables of Fort Concho as the venue. The director, a friend of ours, let us spend our wedding night in the restored Officer's Quarter One. Unfortunately, I'd heard one too many ghost stories about that place and didn't sleep a wink (okay, stop snickering y'all). Anyhoo, 5 a.m. in the morning we ended up in a diner sharing our first breakfast as Mr. & Mrs.
My love affair with diner food continues to this day. What's there not to love? Good diner meals are simple, good and comforting. When I crave some but can't go out to a diner, I try to whip up something close in my kitchen...of course, with a Rashda twist.
Sweet Potato & 2 Pepper Hash with Fried Egg & Avocado
3 Tablespoons of oil (reserve 1 tablespoon for later use)
2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled & diced into 1/2-inch cubes
salt and pepper
2 teaspoons panchphoron (you could replace that with 1 tsp fennel seeds, 1 teaspoon cumin seeds or anything you prefer)
1/2 large onion, peeled and diced
1/2 teaspoon of red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon of turmeric powder
1 teaspoon coriander powder (optional)
4 to 6 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
1-inch piece of ginger, peeled and grated
1 large sweet red bell pepper, seeded and diced into 1/2-inch pieces
1 large poblano pepper, seeded and diced into 1/2-inch pieces
2 tablespoons of lemon juice or water
1 avocado, sliced
1/4 cup of fresh cilantro, chopped (optional)
Home-made or store-bought salsa
1. Heat 2 tblsp of oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add sweet potatoes. Season them with salt and pepper. Try to get the potatoes in a single layer and don't over-stir so that you get nice browning. But keep an eye on them & the stirrer handy, since you don't want them to burn to black. If you're happy with the caremelization, feel free to sprinkle some water to help with the cooking.
2.When the potatoes are 3/4 cooked, take the pan off the heat. I usually put them in a paper towel lined bowl and set aside.
3.Clean off the pan with another paper towel and get ready for some desi cooking. We Bengalis call this technique baghar, Indians often refer to it as tarka, but it involves cooking the spices in hot oil and adding it to the almost finished dish for a final pop of flavor.
4.Heat remaining tablespoon of oil in the skillet.
5. Add the spice seeds and cook for about a minute.
6. Add the onions, and when that starts softening add in the red pepper flakes and ground spices. Cook for about three minutes until well mixed (again, if sticking sprinkle some water on it).
7. Toss in the garlic, ginger, red bell pepper and poblano. Cook for about five minutes.
8. Return the sweet potatoes to the pan, sprinkle with two tablespoons of lemon juice or water and finish cooking until the potatoes are done. Set aside.
9. Fry up your eggs, slice up the avocado (a big round of applause to the Cowboy for helping so we could have every thing ready at about the same time).
10. Plate up your hash, egg and avocado. Sprinkle with cilantro (if using) and serve with a side of salsa. I try to be seasonal in my food and beverage choices...and this was perfectly accompanied by a cold bottle of Shiner Spring Ale. :)
Variations: I considered adding some breakfast sausage to the hash, but decided the egg was protein enough. And I left out any kind of bread because, well, the sweet potatoe is the starch. For a heartier meal, I'd add those in.
To finish up, instead of pie I'm offering you the poem Breakfast by Minnie Bruce Pratt. Happy reading & eating!
To my #Letslunch friends: Sorry, I know I had you thinking quiche...but then I stumbled onto a #spicechat and got inspired to make some sweet potato hash instead.
Some of the other breakfast for lunch posts by #Letslunch pals:
Cinnamon Roll French Toast Sticks
Okra Coins with Fried Eggs & Biscuit