You have never quite graduated from truly basic cooking if you have not poached the perfect egg, say some schools of thought. Quivering fresh, showcasing the truest flavours of the nutrient-packed element and seasoned simply, a poached egg is divinity for breakfast – and not so difficult to pull off, really, if you keep just a few tips in mind. These include making sure the ingredients are far from old, adding a dash of vinegar to your simmering water, and creating a gentle whirlpool into which your egg will be tipped. All you have to do then is watch the billowing stormcloud of cooking whites delicately envelop the golden heart – and make sure you do not overcook it!
Several places in Pune pull off the best kind of poached eggs, especially on their breakfast menus, accompanied by all their classic accoutrements – nobody is quite as generous with their buttery hollandaise drizzle as The Flour Works, or the profusion of bacon rashers that form a bed from Café 1730. And no one really pulls off that cheesy, crunchy salty-sweetish hash brown pile on the side quite like Terttulia or Terttulia Bistro.
But if poached eggs are a healthy option for you, Where Else Café offers them on a relatively new ‘Health Menu’ – here, they come served with piquant baked beans and sautéed mushrooms, grilled tomatoes, and a power-packed combo of broccoli, quinoa, spinach, almonds and walnuts to boot. Similarly, Tien showcases the poach with a combo that brings you a fresh tomato salsa, multi-grain toast, two quenelles of potato mash (creamy and pesto), corn on the cob and your choice of cold-pressed juice (the watermelon–basil one is a refreshing option).
Over at One O Eight Café, two poached eggs sit pretty on a bed of pesto mushrooms, served atop crusty baguette slices and a generous drizzle of olive oil, not to mention a snowstorm of parmesan shavings. If this sounds too sinful, opt for their Green Protein Bowl – a mix of power-food quinoa in salsa verde, almond dukkah, a burstingly fresh green salad and two poached eggs sitting pretty on top, waiting for their runny yolks to bind all those nutritious ingredients together.
If it is a little indulgence and lots of variety you are looking for, Prems is quite well known for its formidable list of variations on the eggs benedict – starting with a classic ham version, a Blackstone with streaky bacon and tomato slices, a Florentine with spinach, a Mornay with the eponymous creamy sauce, an Atlantic with smoked salmon and even a portobello mushroom version – all served with tons of hollandaise sauce atop soft and toasty English muffins.
The K Factory also leaves you spoilt for choice, offering its poached eggs on sweet brioche buns, with a refreshing salad of arugula, pea shoots and confit tomatoes amid creamy hollandaise. Here, the options span wilted spinach and mushrooms, ham or smoked bacon, and peri peri chicken with sweet pimentos.
Incidentally, 212 All Day Café and Bar also serves its Eggs Benny with a tender smoked chicken option, besides others, for those who are not big fans of pork, salmon or spinach.
What genuinely tops my list, though, is one item that brings some desi flair and tadka into what can sometimes be slightly bland proceedings – at Bar Bar, the Mumbai Masala Benedict has two poached eggs on a spicy, fragrant masala pao/bun base, toasted to buttery perfection. Served in a skillet with hash browns and roast tomatoes, the differentiator here is the green chilli hollandaise – a fiery hit of spice in a classic soothing sauce, making for velvety flavour perfection.
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Shweta has been writing about food for a few years now and has dabbled in TV, print and online journalism for over almost a decade. She has written on and edited for topics ranging from the environment, culture and lifestyle to politics, business and, of course, food. She has written for publications under the Times Group, Fox Life India and NDTV. When she's not devouring a good book or spending vast swathes of time on the Interweb, she loves to set off on all manner of culinary explorations.