The meal that speaks to me more than any other is the simplest street food from Tabriz, my mother’s hometown in Iran. It’s called yeralma yumurta, which means “potato egg,” and it comes from a tradition of making do with what you have. My grandmother used to make it for me for lunch. She’d boil a potato and egg, smoosh them onto flatbread, and top the mixture with olive oil and salt. (Here’s how to make hard-boiled eggs in the oven.) She was supposed to be feeding me the stew my mother had defrosted, but my grandmother was a rebel. She’d say, “We’re making our own rules today.” We would eat yeralma yumurta, play poker, and read Turkish coffee cups.
Now it’s my go-to lunch when I’m in a rush and can’t be bothered with dirtying more than one pot, and it’s the dish I crave after a workout. Making it reminds me of my time with my grandmother and our little act of rebellion. That memory still thrills me. (Related: How This Fearless Female Chef Stays Healthy Despite Spending All Day In the Kitchen)
This meal is also the one I eat alone for a moment of peace. I turn off all gadgets, sit at the table, and make a cup of black tea, Persian style. I am so much about cooking for big crowds, and I love having people over, but this humble “potato egg” cooked and eaten in a moment of Zen is what truly feeds my soul. (Related: 8 Authentic Breakfast Recipes from Around the World)
- 1 medium Yukon Gold potato (about 4 ounces), peeled and cut in half
- Kosher salt
- 1 large egg
- Olive oil for drizzling
- Ground black pepper
- 1 piece of lavash or sangak bread
- Dried mint for sprinkling
- Feta cheese, crumbled (optional)
- Fresh herbs, chopped (optional)
- Place potato in a small pot. Cover with water (about 2 cups), and add 1/2 teaspoon salt. Partially cover and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to medium and cook until potato is fork-tender, 15 to 20 minutes.
- In final 5 minutes cook the egg. Place egg in a small pot, cover with water, and bring to a boil over high heat. Turn off heat and cover pot for 4 to 5 minutes, for a soft-boiled egg with a runny yolk. If you prefer your yolk not as runny, cover for 6 to 8 minutes, or cook up to 10 minutes for a hard-boiled egg. Set aside to cool slightly and peel.
- Place potato in a small bowl and mash it with a fork. Drizzle with a glug of olive oil. Sprinkle with a pinch of salt and black pepper. The olive oil and salt are key here, so don’t skimp. Place the mashed potato on top of the bread, place the egg on top, and mash or cut in half so yolk oozes out. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Top with dried mint, feta, and herbs, if you like. Give another light drizzle of olive oil, roll up the bread, or fold it over, and eat.