You know how you sometimes read a book and see a recipe that captivates you, yet looks only half tempting? That what happened to me when I flipped through the pages of recently acquired book and spotted a recipe for Baid Mutajjan, or fried hard-boiled eggs with cumin. I like eggs, and I do like the listed spices (cinnamon, coriander, cumin), but somehow spice-fried chicken eggs sounded less than perfect. I guess I just cannot imagine biting into a full boiled egg, seasoned or not, fried or not, elsewhere than at a breakfast table. And then I want my boiled egg plain, with just a dot of butter and a sprinkle of sea salt. No cinnamon, cumin nor coriander in sight. But then, I thought, as a little light started flashing in the back of my head, this recipe would work so much better with tiny quail eggs, wouldn't it!?
It did. A perfect little quail egg mouthful doused in warm and subtle spices would make a wonderful addition to a drinks party. I'm sure children would welcome new spices when served like this. And we simply nibbled them while waiting for our main course to be done..
By the way - if this source is to believed, then this is a truly old recipe indeed. A very similar recipe for Baid Mutajjan is to be found in Muhammad bin hasad al-Baghdadi's 1226 cookbook al-Kitab al-Tabīh ('The Book of Dishes') . If my math is correct, then that's 780 years ago!!!
Spicy fried quail eggs
Adapted from Ghillie Basan's The Middle Eastern Kitchen
12 quail eggs*
1 Tbsp oil
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp coriander seeds
0.5 tsp ground cinnamon
Maldon sea salt
Bring a small saucepan of water to the boil. Add quail eggs, boil for no more than 2 minutes, drain and quickly rinse under cold water. Peel the eggs carefully.
Grind cumin and coriander seeds in a pestle and mortar (or use an old electric coffee grinder), mix in cinnamon.
Heat the oil in a small frying pan, add the spices and stir for a few seconds to release the aromas.
Add peeled eggs, stir gently, until the eggs are covered with a spicy oil.
Serve warm, sprinkle with salt flakes.
* Feel free to use only 10 eggs. It's just that quail eggs come in packets of 12 in Estonia :)