Huevos Rancheros in Spanish means Rancher’s Eggs and it is probably the most popular brunch item on the Mexican as well as Southwestern menus. But haven’t we lost the charm of eating a glorious breakfast today? Is there much left of the concept of a hearty, fulfilling breakfast at the table with family, before we break for our industrious days?
Breakfast isn’t our priority any more. The day’s first meal is more a victim of our frantic routines and our craze for diet plans……so much so, that the once considered “most important meal of the day” is today reduced down to “most skipped meal of the day” or to a mere “some coffee and grab-anything meal”. However, our moms and grand-moms do still insist upon having a proper breakfast before we begin our day to inject in all the right nutrition that would keep us going. Gone are the days, when children would wake up to the aroma of spices from the Kitchen, or the sounds of a stirring spoon, crackle and spatter of food in making, by Mothers. Today the luxury of a nice ritualistic breakfast remain bound within the realms of a day with houseful of visiting guests, or a special occasion, or a weekend if you can get up early and push yourself into the kitchen to make one for yourself. On all other days, our lack of time and busy lives have led us to care less about breakfasts.
Nevertheless, in some fortunate parts of the world, you could still find the culture of an everyday, customary and ceremonious old-fashioned fare. Most of these households are either the ones that are traditional and have held on to their conventional values and norms, or they are the households where a breakfast is more of a necessity than a social privilege — a majority of these are houses, where the bread-earners had a hard and demanding working day to look forward to.
Mexico, has had a long ranching heritage — people would step out for work before dawn and get back together around a big, long table for a delectable country breakfast or brunch. Conventional ranch breakfast centered on burritos, corn tortillas, potatoes, eggs, meat and sausages. It is said, if you were a ranch hand, then your mid-morning breakfast was the most pivotal meal of your day of labor, and it had to be a complete meal — complete with all kinds of nutrients because these laborers had tough days and worked hard in bad weather and in all kinds of circumstances.
In rural Mexico, Huevos Rancheros or the Ranch Eggs, was a popular brunch of refried beans (cooked and mashed beans) and poached eggs served on corn tortillas with hot tomato salsa/sauce, potatoes, avocado and peppers, with or without Mexican rice. It was essentially served to farm and Ranch workers. This dish essentially also ensures a lovely reuse of a day old leftover tortillas, rice or burrito beans and reduces waste in an exciting, interesting way.
With immigrating Mexicans, Huevos Rancheros traveled outside it’s native land, and was introduced to America. Thanks to the Texas-Mexican Railways, Texas was the first to embrace Mexican cuisine. “Mexican“, mixing with “Texan” to form the “Tex-Mex” — the fusion of Mexican and American cooking styles. And eventually, the Mexican cuisine ethnicity then spread to the rest of the Southwestern United States. Though the essence and heart of the immensely popular Hueveros Rancheros still remained quite the same, but some non-Mexican adaptations were inevitable. Certain additions to dish were made — like using flour tortillas, sour cream, lettuce, chillies, enchiladas, cheese, etc.
We were all home-based last morning and I made it for brunch, giving this dish a welcome Indian twist. I used my left over Phulkas (Small size Indian breads called Roti / Chapathi), along side my Indo-Mexican Lobia (black eyed peas) cooked with tomatoes (in place of salsa) and seasoned with hot Chilly flakes and Cilantro leaves (Dhania Patti), crumbled fresh Paneer (Indian Cottage Cheese) and a couple slices of Avocado. The outcome was an delightfully exotic Huevos Rancheros that we feasted on!
- 3 Phulkas (about 6″ Rotis or Chapathis) or 6″ Tortillas (Corn or wheat or all purpose flour)
- 1.5 US cups (12 oz or 350 gms or 350 ml) of well boiled beans of your choice — preferably Red Kidney beans (Rajma), or Black eyed peas (Lobia) or Pinto Beans (Pinto Sem) — I used Lobia. You may also use 1 can of store bought cooked beans.
- 1 small-medium Bell Pepper (Capsicum) of your choice, chopped — yellow, red, green or orange (I used yellow).
- 1 small Onion, chopped
- 1 large Tomato, chopped
- 1 tbsp chopped fresh garlic cloves (I used 2 large cloves) or garlic paste
- 1 tbsp red Chilly flakes or Paprika (hot red chilly powder) or chopped Indian hot green chilies or a super hot sauce
- 1 handful of your favorite fresh herbs, shredded — I used chopped Coriander/Cilantro leaves (Dhania patti)
- 4-6 tbsp of shredded or grated or crumbled fresh cheese of your choice — preferably Indian Cottage cheese (Paneer). I used Paneer to add an Indian zing! you could also use Mexican 4-cheese mix or Cheddar or Mozzarella
- Flesh of 1 Avacado or about 3 dollops/servings of Guacamole
- 3 Eggs (if you like 1 poached egg per serving) or 6 Eggs (for 2 eggs per serving)
- Fresh ground Black pepper
- 2 tbsp Light Olive oil or vegetable oil + bit more for greasing frying pans
- Couple dollops of Sour cream (*optional)
- Some shredded Lettuce (*optional)
- Salt to taste
- Heat the oil in a frying pan over medium heat and add the chopped garlic pieces.
- As soon as the garlic splutter (and before they get burnt), add the chopped onions, tomatoes, bell peppers and the red chilly flakes together. Saute them for about 2 minutes, or until they are fried and begin releasing juices.
- Add the pre-cooked/boiled/can beans into the pan. Stir, mix and press down the ladle to lightly mash the beans as you fry them with the onions, peppers and tomatoes. Cook them all together for about 2 minutes.
- Adjust salt.
- The beans should be just about a little moist and without gravy. If you see more water content in your beans, turn the stove to high heat and stir and cook for a bit until the extra water is gone. (This step ensures that the beans do not make the flatbreads/Phulkas/tortillas soggy.)
- Switch off the stove. Add the shredded Coriander leaves to the beans and mix.
- In another greased frying pan, make poached eggs (one-sided or both, whichever way you’d like) and keep ready. The eggs are usually done one-sided or sunny-side up.
- Reuse the pan you used for the eggs (greased or not) and heat over medium heat. Place one Phulka or tortilla on the pan and press down to heat them lightly, so they become soft. Quickly flip them to heat the other side and place on a serving plate. Repeat for all Phulkas/tortilla. (Take care not to overheat them — overheating will make them hard, crusty and fragile — not how we’d like our breads to be!)
- Top each Phulka with 1 or 2 fried eggs and sprinkle some fresh ground pepper on them. Spoon some beans to cover the other half of the Phulka. Garnish with crumbs of cheese. Place a few slices of Avocado as a side or a generous dollop of Guacamole. Repeat for all the Phulkas/tortillas.
- Serve them immediately. You may also supply some sour cream and shredded lettuce alongside to make it all the more exciting!