By Nadia Boachie
I have always been a fan of eggs. As a Ghanaian-Canadian, I grew up in a household where eggs were a fixture for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. In Ghana, boiled eggs are a common street food sold by hawkers, peeled, sliced on the spot, and filled with a spicy, salty pepper mixture made from scotch bonnet, tomato and onion. And in homes like mine, staple dishes like Jollof, Waakye, Ampesi, and Eto are incomplete until they’re paired with a boiled or sometimes fried egg.
The Ghanaian love for eggs is the object of playful teasing from other West Africans. People who know this not-so-inside-joke will often leave light-hearted comments on recipes and social media posts that feature Ghanaian food. Next time you see a Ghanaian recipe online, just have a peep into the comment section as I can almost guarantee there will be dozens of playful comments highlighting the inclusion of an egg, or better yet, expressing shock at its omission.
But in other ways, Ghana’s love for eggs is not unique. Their role in Earth’s culinary history is visible in thousands of dishes from across cultures and continents. From Spain to Somalia, eggs add flavour, texture and affordable nutrition to daily staples throughout the day and a singular joy to local specialities.
Over the last few months, I’ve explored just a few egg dishes from around the world. While these five recipes only scratch the surface, they’ve given me an even deeper appreciation for the versatility of this powerful little ingredient.
Dish one is Loco Moco, a Hawaiian dish that was allegedly created for diner customers who asked their waiter to whip them up something affordable. Loco Moco is a gravy-smothered beef patty laid on a steaming bed of white rice and crowned with a fried sunny side egg. The dish reminds me of a kicked up salisbury steak, with the runny yolk adding a rich saltiness that oozes into the hamburger patty before being absorbed by the rice.
Dish two is Chipsi Mayai. This omelette of omelettes is a Tanzanian street food that is making its way across the world. This dish may seem familiar since it’s so similar to the Spanish Omelette or Tortilla, a potato omelette popularly served as a tapa and contender for Spain’s national dish. Chipsi Mayai is stuffed with french fries and served with a fresh chopped spicy tomato salad, kachumbari. I made this one with french fries and then levelled it up even more with perfectly crispy tater tots. And yes, the version with tater tots is amazing as you think it is.
From Italy and the third dish on my list was Eggs in Purgatory. A comforting oven-to-table dish; eggs are slowly simmered in a tomato sauce flavoured with dried spices, fresh herbs and optional add-ins like crumbled hot Italian sausage. Yes, it’s reminiscent of Middle Eastern Shakshuka, but debates about which came about first are still ongoing.
Number four is an East African dish, Doro Wat sometimes spelled Doro Wot. This dish is a rich, earthy Ethiopian chicken stew that is made primarily of slow cooked onions and chicken with boiled eggs. Doro Wat is typically served with injera, a flat bread made from fermented teff flour. This berbere-spiced chicken and egg dish is often considered Ethiopia’s national dish and it is beyond worthy of taking that title.
Last but certainly not least is a lentil dish, dal tadka with eggs. Dal tadka is a classic, versatile Indian preparation that involves tempering spices and aromatics in oil or ghee, and adding the mixture to cooked lentils. While not traditional, warm Indian spices and eggs simply go amazingly together. The eggs can be baked right into the lentils or poached separately and then placed on top before the tempered whole spices and aromatics are poured over the dish. When making dal tadka with eggs, it was incredible to see how such simple ingredients were elevated in both flavour and presentation. Yet another reminder of how eggs can both be elegant and yet so simple in the best possible way.
After months of research, testing, and a whole lot of eating, these five dishes are just an introduction to what’s possible with my favourite special ingredient. So no matter where you’re from or what you’re cooking, make sure you don’t forget the egg because as I’ve learned, people will definitely notice!
Nadia is the creative mind behind Travelandmunchies, a media platform where she explores the world through global recipes she makes in her kitchen. You can follow along her culinary journey on Instagram, TikTok or her website travelandmunchies.com.