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Sabbath at the Spectrum Café: A Pinch of Reminiscence


Early one Sunday morning when I was a teenager, I experienced the tantalizing smell of something I just had to eat. I was a student residing at the dormitory at Spicer Memorial College in India at that time. The smell, I thought, was something special on cafeteria’s breakfast menu. However, nothing on the menu that morning came close to the smell I had experienced earlier. A week went by, and at 6 a.m. on Sunday morning it returned—the same mouth-watering scent.

My research led me to the college bakery. I was familiar with everything that they usually made, but this was different. They told me that at 6 a.m. that morning, the cook had made “bun filling,” consisting of eggs and onions. I wanted then more than anything to taste one, but my pocket money did not stretch that far. On one occasion, I did have enough money to purchase one—and I never forgot the taste.

Years later, when I had my own home in India, I decided to re-create the scent and add a few more ingredients to the original to make it my own. So out of quiet desperation was born a recipe I’ve christened “egg chutney” because of its chutney-like consistency, and also because this dish by any other name would taste just as delicious. Since then, it’s become a family favorite at get-togethers, picnics or for “just because I feel like it” occasions. Each time I make it, I’m transported to that Sunday long ago.

It is a simple dish with just seven easy-to-find ingredients: onions, tomatoes, serrano pepper, cilantro, eggs, oil and salt—and an eighth ingredient, one pinch of reminiscence. I usually use pasture-raised eggs in this recipe for their taste as well as health benefits. Pasture-raised chickens are never caged and produce eggs that are lower in cholesterol and higher in lecithin and omega-3 fatty acids. I purchase mine from the farmer’s market near my home.

Enjoy it as a filling in buns, with toasted bread, or as an accompaniment with chapatis (unleavened flatbread also known as roti) or tortillas. Simple, mouth-watering and easy to make, it could become your family favorite for a Sabbath morning breakfast. As my three-year-old grandson Joshua used to say, “Try it, you’ll like it!”

Susheela Rai is a former English professor and dean of women from Spicer Memorial (Adventist) College in Pune, India. She is now a medical transcriptionist in Southern California and attends the Eagle Rock Seventh-day Adventist Church. She is a proud wife, mother and grandmother.

Photo credit: Michelle Rai

This week’s recipe for Egg Chutney comes from Susheela Rai. She writes, “To easily maximize the flavor, let the onions cook for at least 10 minutes—preferably longer. During that time, you can organize your other ingredients. It is also important to use a neutral cooking oil, such as grapeseed or another vegetable oil. Using a flavored oil like olive or coconut oil will change the taste of the chutney (however, refined coconut oil is OK—it just won’t have the coconut flavor).” Note: The egg chutney can be prepared the day before and heated just before serving.

Egg Chutney

Serves: 4 people (8 buns total)
Prep time: 15 min.

2 medium onions, finely chopped
6 medium, vine-ripened tomatoes, finely chopped
1 serrano chili pepper, deseeded and cut in half lengthwise (optional)
4 eggs, beaten
6-8 tbsp. grapeseed or other neutral-flavored oil
2-4 tbsp. cilantro, chopped
Salt, to taste
Whole-wheat, spelt, gluten-free or other burger buns


1.     In a wok on medium heat, heat the oil. Add chopped onions and serrano chili and sauté until onions are golden brown, about 10-15 minutes.

2.     While the onions are cooking, chop tomatoes. After the onions have cooked, add chopped tomatoes and continue cooking, stirring often, until mixture attains a sauce-like texture. Add salt to taste. Remove serrano chili and discard.

3.     Mix in beaten eggs at medium to low heat and stir until eggs are cooked and have melded with the tomato mixture. Add salt to taste.

4.     Remove from heat and add chopped cilantro.

5.     Spoon mixture into buns. Enjoy!

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