Eggs on Anything

Kasa Par Ida

A Hindu friend jokes about our Parsi eggomania, saying, “The only thing you people haven’t yet put eggs on is eggs.” Kasa par ida—eggs on whatever you like—is one of the cornerstones of Parsi food. Sometimes it’s a hastily improvised dish that appears as part of the evening meal; there’s also a place for it in our long ceremonial banquets. What goes under the eggs is left to imagination or expediency; usually it’s a vegetable, sometimes meat. Since these foundations for kasa par ida are dishes in their own right, you will find them in the vegetable and meat chapters. I’m giving you a mere sampling of the many possibilities.

There are two approaches to Eggs on Anything. In the first, eggs are broken onto the surface of the mixture and then steamed. This way, you need at least one egg per person, or three quail eggs for an especially playful hors d’oeuvre or first course.

The second approach is a simple steamed soufflé blanket billowing up over the base and then settling into a light, spongy topping. It uses fewer eggs to far greater dramatic effect and has the advantage of not having to be eaten immediately. Both approaches make delectable late breakfasts, light lunches, or light suppers.

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  • Method 1. Have the base mixture (see the variations below) ready in a skillet with a lid handy. Make shallow depressions in the surface of the mixture. Break the eggs, 1 or more per person, into these hollows. Pour a little water around the edge of the mixture. Turn up the heat until steam rises; clap on the lid, reduce the heat to low, and let the eggs cook until the whites are set but the yolks are still runny. Serve at once.
  • Method 2. Have the base mixture ready in a skillet. Have a high-domed lid handy, or use a suitably sized metal bowl. Three eggs will cover the contents of a 10-inch skillet and serve six, more if it’s an hors d’oeuvre, four as a first course. Separate the eggs. Beat the whites stiff with a pinch of salt. Stir the yolks, add a spoonful of the beaten whites to lighten them, and then quickly fold in the rest of the whites. Pour a drizzle of water around the mixture in the skillet. Cover the surface of the mixture with the egg, going all the way to the edges. Turn up the heat to generate steam. Cover the pan with the high-domed lid. Turn down the heat to low and let the eggs puff up. You know they are done when the surface is dry and slightly springy when touched. The billow of egg will subside almost immediately into a topping with a really lovely texture. Serve at once, or eat later at room temperature. Eggs this way make a good hors d’oeuvre or first course served on small plates.