Today I will tell you how to poach an egg

Updated: Aug 23, 2019, 07:28 IST | Rosalyn Dmello |

Instead of state and world affairs, I'm going to talk about a matter so simple it boggles the minds of even the most intelligent among us

One morning, I decided to tackle what always seemed a daunting endeavour - I decided to poach an egg. Pic/Rosalyn D'mello
One morning, I decided to tackle what always seemed a daunting endeavour - I decided to poach an egg. Pic/Rosalyn D'mello

Rosalyn D'MelloToday, I feel less inclined to rant about state or world affairs. I am afraid I might repeat myself if I begin to talk about the Amazon rainforest that has been burning so uncontrollably that the smoke can be seen from outer space. I want to tell you that I am both elated and petrified that while India's space mission has managed to successfully steer Chandrayan into the moon's orbit, we have found ourselves at a moment in time when most civilians have lost their ability to distinguish fake news from real and so, believe whatever will validate existing biases.

I am angry and upset that while some in Iceland are grieving the death of one of its glaciers, Trump has been busy trying to negotiate the purchase of Greenland with the Prime Minister of Denmark, because for him, precipitating climate change translates to easier access to mineral deposits.

I want to scream from my seat in a Mumbai rickshaw so loudly that I am briefly able to conquer the incessant blare of traffic. I want to scream hoarse my anger about the government's proposal to convert salt pans into real estate, as if this city hasn't already brought itself to the brink of ecological disaster. I seem to never run out of things to be upset about, but I am afraid to vocalise them lest I be branded hysterical, typical for my gender. I feel a resentment towards politicians who have the audacity to brand the persecution of Kashmiris as an internal matter, and towards the world's inaction, which feels like a do-over of the developed world's apathy towards Hitler's concentration camps. At what point in our history did we completely disconnect with our capacity for empathy?

But today, I will hold my tongue. Today, I will not let my anger get the better of me, not for fear of being labelled seditious (like Shehla Rashid) for speaking truth to power, but because I am tired, and so, prefer instead to talk about a matter so exquisitely simple it boggles the minds of even the most intelligent among us. Today I will tell you how to poach an egg.

I am aware that I have earned myself the privilege of more leisurely mornings because I have chosen not to prostrate myself to corporate slavery. I am not judging anyone who hasn't. We all need to earn our livelihoods somehow, and my methods are not as ideologically untainted as I would like them to be.

I am all about breakfast indulgences. When I was at my partner's home in Tramin, he saw my dismay when he offered me fresh bread, butter, jam, and honey. "Can I have something more substantial?" I beseeched him.

I eventually decided on two eggs, which I began to fry the way the food writer MFK Fisher advised, by first heating up a frying pan until the butter you'd placed on its surface has melted; then breaking the eggs on it, covering it with a lid, then leaving it for about three minutes or so.

After breakfast, I would allow myself to think of the many things I could cook for lunch. Because of the daily practice of voluntarily cooking for my partner and his family, I started to become more proficient. One morning, I decided to tackle what always seemed a daunting endeavour — I decided to poach an egg.

I'd done it before multiple times. It's how a Goan egg curry differs from other regional Indian variants. We make the coconut-flavoured curry, and when it's boiling, break the eggs into it. Except I've always felt too intimidated by the prospect of poaching an egg just for the sake of it. That morning in Tramin, I felt ready. I quickly glanced at instructions online and felt confident enough to try my hand. I boiled water, turned down the heat, then poured into the vortex the egg I'd broken into a small bowl. Then, I saw wisps of egg white floating on the surface. I decided I had failed. I discarded the water, cut my losses and moved on with my life.

Two days after I returned to Delhi, I decided to try my hand at it again. I asked my partner to stand near me for moral support. I had done a lot more research this time, and I shared with him the YouTube videos I had chosen as my reference. I would evolve my own strategy.

I let the water boil, then turned down the heat, stirring it lightly until there were no longer any bubbles; the water was still. I used a slotted spoon to create a liquid vortex, then I tipped the bowl containing the egg I'd broken into the centre. I went the Jamie Oliver way. He argued that using vinegar to keep the whites in place meant you'd get eggs with traces of its acetic sourness. My partner put three minutes on the timer. We waited, ignoring the wisps that had begun to swim upon the surface. When the timer went off, I used the slotted spoon to unearth the eggs. They were perfectly poached; the whites had stiffened beautifully, the yolk was runny enough without seeming raw.

I've lost track of how many eggs I've since poached. But I still think about that sacrificial one; the one I discarded because I had no faith.

Today, I mourn it a little.

Deliberating on the life and times of Everywoman, Rosalyn D'Mello is a reputable art critic and the author of A Handbook For My Lover. She tweets @RosaParx Send your feedback to

The views expressed in this column are the individual's and don't represent those of the paper

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