Khagina, or spicy scrambled “eggs” with tomatoes and onion (Pakistan)

With almost 180 million inhabitans Pakistan is one of the most populous countries of the world. Considering that fairly little is known about it in the west, save for its nuclear weapons and it being a neighbour of India. Disputes over some areas have led to wars between India and Pakistan. There have been several military coups, too. Pakistan is an Islamic country and Urdu is the main language, though obviously there are dozens of minority languages. The country is biologically and geographically diverse and its national animal is the peculiar looking Markhor.

The Pakistani cuisine is quite similar to Indian, especially North Indian cuisine, though also with some influences from Afghanistan, Iran and Central Asia. There are of course regional differences: the food in some areas is more Indian in style and in others more Central Asian. Dishes tend to be rich and spicy and are usually served with rice. Spices are mostly the same as in India, including the popular spice blend garam masala, but nutmeg and mace are also used. Meat is eaten quite heavily, especially lamb/mutton, often served in kebabs (being a Muslim country vegetarianism is less common than in India). Both green tea (including salted tea) and spiced black tea similar to Indian chai are very popular.

Khagina is often eaten at breakfast and considered the ultimate comfort food, which consists of scrambled eggs with chili, Indian-style spices and almost always onions and tomatoes, but the recipe can vary quite a bit. Some variations use mashed cooked eggs instead of scrambled eggs. I looked up several khagina recipes and based my vegan version mostly on this and this, though for some reason the latter seems to have disappeared and only shows up a photo now…

Because the recipe is described as creamy, I decided to use silken tofu, even though most tofu scrambles are based on firm tofu. I think it was the right choice even though it means a considerably longer cooking time. The nutritional yeast, mustard and black salt are there to replicate the taste of eggs. It turned out a bit greasy, so I have reduced the amount of oil from what I originally used. Other than that it was rather tasty.

Khagina

Vegan khagina

1 tbsp oil
1 onion
1 green (or red) chili, chopped
1 tomato, chopped
1/2 tsp grated fresh ginger
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
(0.5 tsp mustard powder)
1 tsp cumin
a little black pepper
a sprinkle turmeric
chili powder, to taste
300 g/10.5 oz silken tofu
0.5 tsp black salt (or normal salt)
(1 tbsp nutritional yeast)
2-3 tbsp cilantro (fresh coriander leaves)

Heat the oil in a frying pan on medium heat. Fry the onion in the oil until golden brown. Add the chili, tomato, garlic, ginger and all powdered spices, except for black salt (and nutritional yeast). Fry for a few minutes.

Drain the silken tofu and crumble it in with your hands. You’ll preferably want chunks slightly smaller than a cherry, because it will crumble down further when cooking. Keep frying. The tofu and the tomato will likely exude a lot of liquid and the whole thing will probably end up looking like a soup! Just keep frying until it reduces to a consistency resembling moist (not dry) scrambled eggs. This can take over 10 minutes. At first you may not have to stir all the time, but when it gets drier the stirring is important to avoid burning anything.

Add the nutritional yeast and black salt a little before it is fully reduced. When it is done, add the cilantro and serve. Can also be reheated quite well.


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