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Potato Parsley and Birista Frittata

March 23, 2011

I ate a slice of frittata with some hummus

My sister recently got back from India and with her, my mother sent me a big stash of yummy, crispy, fragrant Birista. What the heck is Birista you ask? It is crunchy deep-fried onions that are used widely in Bohra cooking. Bohra is the name of the Muslim sub-sect that I was raised in and it is an Indian sub-culture that has its own unique cuisine and food traditions, influenced by Arab and Indian styles of cooking. Read all about the Bohra culture here and how to make the perfect Birista over at my friend Kulsum’s blog.

I’ve been finding excuses to eat Birista with every meal. The beauty of fried onions is that they go with any meal – a garnish on any dish, an attractive addition on plain rice or khichdi, on top of eggs, a crunchy addition to sandwiches and it even glams up the simple daal-chawal (rice and lentils). Even in cooking, the Birista is really versatile and can be used in place of fresh onions in the curry base to prepare meat dishes.

So, yesterday, when I found myself searching the pantry and fridge for something to eat for lunch, all I found was half a boiled potato, a few eggs and some fresh parsley. Inspired by Julia Child’s method of browning potatoes in a skillet, and an imaginative concoction of eggs and Birista, I made this Potato, Parsley and Birista Fritatta. I ate it for lunch and when eaten with some store-bought hummus, it made a fancy and delicious meal in itself. I suppose serving it for dinner or brunch would also be a great idea, considering how easy it is to make.

Here’s how you make it:

You will need (serves 1 very hungry person or 2 moderately hungry people ;)):

  • 1 medium sized heavy-bottom oven proof non-stick skillet
  • 1 large potato, boiled and sliced thin
  • 1 large clove of garlic, minced (alternatively, you could use garlic powder)
  • Any cooking oil
  • 2 large eggs
  • Fresh chopped parsley
  • a splash of milk
  • Your favorite shredded cheese
  • Some Birista
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Cayenne pepper powder

Method:

  • Heat about 3 tbsp of oil in the skillet. Once heated, swirl the oil around in the pan to make sure it properly coats the sides and bottom of the skillet.
  • Place the sliced potatoes in a circle first around the edges of the skillet and then the center, to form a sort of circle of sliced potato on the bottom of the frying pan. (Here, you could use raw sliced potatoes, but cooking time would accordingly increase. Boiling them beforehand makes the meal faster to make). Sprinkle the minced garlic over the potatoes and season with salt , pepper and cayenne pepper. Allow the potatoes to brown from one side on medium to high heat, pressing down with a non-stick turner.
  • Flip the potatoes over once browned from one side, and season again, while pressing down with the turner.
  • While the potatoes brown, whisk the eggs, milk, parsley, salt and pepper in a bowl.

  • When the potatoes are well browned and crisp from both sides, pour the egg mixture over the potatoes. Immediately, shake the skillet gently to make sure the egg settles between the potatoes and to the bottom of the skillet. Lower the heat, cover the skillet and allow the eggs to cook slowly. Occasionally, keep shaking the skillet to make sure the eggs don’t stick to the bottom of the skillet.
  • The eggs will be almost cooked when you see that the sides are cooked but the middle of the skillet still has some raw egg. Sprinkle some cheese and birista over the eggs at this point, cover with a lid again and let it cook till you see very little raw egg on the top.
  • Finally, place the skillet 4-5 inches under a hot broiler on high in your oven to allow the top of the frittata to cook and brown. Allow to cook for about 3-4 minutes or until the eggs are cooked completely.
  • Serve immediately and garnish with some crispy birista. You can serve it with a dollop of hummus or sour cream.
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22 Comments leave one →
  1. March 23, 2011 2:17 pm

    A good friend of mine here in LA is Borah so I know all about these deep-fried onions. They are delicious!! And this is a great way to incorporate them in a western dish.

    • March 25, 2011 1:12 pm

      Yeah Birista is so versatile and so easy to create fusion dishes with. I’m not sure everyone would love the flavor as much though.

  2. March 23, 2011 2:30 pm

    I hate that the picture on my post is taken with flash and looks way darker than it really gets :-( Yours look perfect! And Frittata? Yum – I love caramelized onions with eggs and I’m sure this is lovely too.

    By the way – Sabera Photographer is getting literal?! Lovely pictures :-)

  3. March 23, 2011 5:48 pm

    This looks awesome Sabera.Those fried onions sent by your mom look amazing.Whats their shelf life? Can u believe I have never made frittata..always end up making plain omelette out of laziness :)

    • March 25, 2011 1:13 pm

      The Birista stays in the fridge in an airtight box for a few months at least. I haven’t see them go bad really if they are dry and well stored. You must try making frittata! It’s so easy.

  4. March 24, 2011 1:43 pm

    I just found your blog through a comment you left on Indian Simmer. Lovely recipe and lovely pictures! Those fried onions also look like a perfect snack on their own. =)

    • March 25, 2011 1:14 pm

      Thanks so much for visiting Jenna :) Glad you liked the pics. Spent a lot of time taking them. Yup the birista is quite yummy. I reach for a few finger-fuls everytime I open the refrigerator ;)

  5. March 27, 2011 8:19 pm

    The birista would definitely be calling me everytime I opened the fridge, too! Fried onions in a fritatta sounds amazing! And I’m loving the photos – you’re really learning to use the camera & compose shots now…I think it’s the hardest part of food blogging. I always rush the shoot, because I just want to EAT!

    • March 28, 2011 10:26 am

      ohhh… thanks for noticing the pics Jenn! And LOVE the new look :)

  6. March 27, 2011 8:43 pm

    This looks like a great dish to me. I was just thinking what to cook for dinner .. i got my answer :P

  7. April 26, 2011 9:18 am

    I love a good frittata. And you had me at deep fried onions.

    • April 26, 2011 11:56 pm

      Thanks for checking out my blog Rufus! And you have a really neat blog yourself! I’ve bookmarked some recipes already :)

  8. April 27, 2011 1:39 pm

    I absolutely love fritattas, and although I’ve never heard of Birista, it sure looks and sounds delicious!

    • April 27, 2011 2:11 pm

      Thank you for visiting my blog Caroline! You have a lovely blog yourself… can’t wait to bookmark some recipes for later!

  9. April 27, 2011 9:58 pm

    That looks very good! I’m not sure if I can find the birista where I live, but I’m going to check. Are you familiar with “French’s” french fried onions? If you are, is that similar to birista? I’m thinking ahead just in case I can not find birista here.

    Lovely blog!

    • April 28, 2011 1:59 pm

      Hi Jamie! Yes French’s fried onions are a pretty good substitute but the flavor is a little different from the traditional Birista. Thanks so much for visiting! Jumping over to your blog!

  10. April 28, 2011 3:29 am

    Pretty damn gorgeous looking, I am sure it is delicious also.

  11. May 16, 2011 12:40 pm

    That looks really lovely. I love the colour of a good frittata.

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  1. Potato Parsley and Birista Frittata (via One Life to Eat) | My Grandparent's Kitchen

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