I believe we’ve mentioned Vegetarian Dishes from the Middle East by Arto Der Haroutunian here before. Given our obsession with our local Armenian supermarket it’s a must-have reference in our house. Lately we’re overwhelmed by eggs. I went to this book looking for something new to do with eggs and whatever basic ingredients I had in the pantry. I tried this recipe and liked it very much. It’s not pretty. It’s quick and tasty comfort food. I think it will be going on regular rotation.
The description says it was served in taverns throughout Turkey and Armenia early this century. I like to imagine sitting in a shadowy cool tavern eating this with fresh flat bread and drinking a cool beer.
It’s basically a simple scramble made substantial with bulgar wheat (aka burghul). See notes below for more on this ingredient.
Havgtov Tzavar (burghul with eggs)
1 onion, finely chopped
About 1 pound of tomatoes, either canned or fresh ones which have been blanched, peeled and chopped
4 ounces of fine bulgar wheat (the package may read #1/fine) (aka burghul)*
Spring/green onions for garnish, chopped
oil and/or butter for frying
salt, pepper, chili pepper
Two frying pans, one with a lid
Start by frying the onion in oil until soft. Then add the tomatoes and salt to taste. Simmer for about ten minutes, stirring occassionally, until the mixture thickens some.
Meanwhile put the bulgar in a bowl and rinse it with water until the water runs clear. When the tomatoes and onions have had their 10 minutes in the pan, add the bulgar and stir it in well. Then put a lid on the pan and set it aside for 10 minutes or so. (This is all the cooking the bulgar needs.)
Go to your other pan and scramble the eggs– be sure to add salt, pepper and a little chili pepper or powder for heat, if you want.
Cook the eggs until they’re just set, then dump them into the pan with the the tomato mix and toss.
Transfer to the serving dish immediately, garnishing with the green onions. Enjoy
*Regarding bulgar wheat aka burghul: This is whole wheat which has been parboiled, dried and ground. You may be most familiar with bulgar as the grain found in tabbouleh salad. Look for it in health food stores and Middle Eastern grocery stores or in the specialty aisles of some supermarkets. In the U.S. (and maybe elsewhere) it is sold in 4 different grinds, #1 being the finest and #4 the coarsest. These numbers are on the packaging. This recipe calls for the fine grind, which almost looks like Cream of Wheat, but is not quite that fine.
**Regarding substitutions: I know there will be substitution questions, because there always are. Fine bulgar is really fine and creates a very specific texture, so I don’t know of any direct substitution. Couscous is the closest, but not quite the same. So while I’d say you can’t recreate this recipe exact to spirit without fine bulgar, I will also say that scrambled eggs tossed with pre-cooked grains of different sorts can be quite good–even if they are not Havgtov Tzavar. Try using cooked leftover rice, for instance, and see what happens. I also like the old Italian trick of scrambling eggs with leftover pasta (and leftover sauce if you’ve got it), which is something different altogether, but quite good.