Sizzling tadka is the star in this dish of baked eggs with greens: Adapted from Nik Sharma’s “Veg-Table”

Once the chard is soft and saucy, you use a wooden spoon to form four shallow divots, then crack an egg into each one. MUST CREDIT: Rey Lopez for The Washington Post. Copyright: food styling by Lisa Cherkasky for The Washington Post

When a preview copy of Nik Sharma’s “Veg-Table” hit my desk last year, I was busy with so many different projects that I didn’t have a chance to open it until November. I knew I’d love it, because I had been an instant fan of Sharma’s first book, “Season,” and second, “The Flavor Equation,” but I was deep into holiday mode, dreaming of rich roasts, custardy pies and stacks of cookies. A table full of vegetables? Maybe later.

Finally, a few days after Thanksgiving, all I wanted was to eat a bell pepper out of hand, followed by a carrot, Bugs Bunny-style. It was time to read “Veg-Table.” Food editor Joe Yonan was already testing recipes from the book – and loving them – when I started flipping through it. As soon as I landed on Page 100 and saw the gorgeous photograph of the recipe on the facing page – Baked Eggs With Tadka Greens – I knew it would be a winner.

You start the one-skillet meal by sauteing thinly sliced leeks and garlic in hot oil. Season them with pepper (chile and black). Add a pound of shredded chard leaves and stems, and let that wilt and almost melt. In his recipe, Sharma adds a can of (drained and rinsed) pinto beans. When I made it, I skipped the beans; I wanted to focus on the greens.

When I’m shopping, I typically reach for spinach and kale. This year, I’m trying to branch out and incorporate more collards and chard in my cooking. From “Veg-Table,” I learned that chard originated in Sicily and is in the same family, the amaranth family, as beets and their greens.

Back to the recipe: Once the chard is soft and saucy, you use a wooden spoon to form four shallow divots, then crack an egg into each one. Slide the pan into the oven, and, while the eggs cook, make a tadka.

“Tadka, which goes by many other names, is one of the most spectacular flavor-building techniques used in Indian cooking,” Sharma writes. “In the tadka method, whole or ground spices and other aromatic ingredients such as garlic or curry leaves are dropped into a small quantity of hot fat with a high smoke point. The heat and the oil help draw out the aromatic molecules from the spices to create a flavorful concoction, which is then poured, warm, to finish your dish.”

What wonderful alchemy. Plus, the timing couldn’t be more perfect. The eggs take only a few minutes to cook – depending on how runny you like your yolks – which is just enough time to heat up a little bit of oil and let a few spices sizzle into it. After the skillet has come out of the oven, and while the tadka is still sizzling, drizzle the spiced oil over the eggs and greens.

With a few pieces of crusty bread on the side, these baked eggs were just the sort of thing I was in the mood for: flavorful, nourishing and substantial, but not too rich.

Baked Eggs With Tadka Greens. MUST CREDIT: Rey Lopez for The Washington Post. Copyright: food styling by Lisa Cherkasky for The Washington Post

Baked Eggs With Tadka Greens

Total time: 30 minutes

Serves 2 to 4

Saucy, stewed and spiced Swiss chard transforms into a plush bed for softly baked eggs in this recipe adapted from Nik Sharma’s “Veg-Table.” The tadka – spices bloomed in oil – that’s poured on top just before serving is a special, and essential, touch. This recipe makes enough for a satisfying meal for 2. It could serve 4 as part of a larger spread. Serve with crusty bread on the side.

Make ahead: Refrigerate for up to 4 days.

Where to buy: Aleppo pepper can be found at Mediterranean markets, well-stocked supermarkets, spice shops or online.


For the eggs and greens:

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 large leeks (12 ounces total), trimmed, halved and thinly sliced

Fine salt

2 cloves garlic, sliced

1 teaspoon Aleppo pepper (optional)

1/4 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper

1 large bunch Swiss chard (20 ounces), shredded

1/2 cup water (optional)

2 to 4 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

4 large eggs

For the tadka:

2 tablespoons ghee or olive oil

1 teaspoon caraway seeds

1 teaspoon brown or black mustard seed

1 teaspoon ground coriander

1/2 teaspoon sweet smoked paprika


Position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees.

Make the greens: In a large, preferably 12-inch, deep skillet over medium-high heat, heat the olive oil until it shimmers. Add the leeks and a pinch of salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until they soften and begin to brown, about 4 minutes. Add the garlic, Aleppo pepper, if using, and black pepper, and let them warm up in the heat of the pan for about 30 seconds. Stir in the chard and another pinch of salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until the chard has fully softened, about 10 minutes. If the pan becomes dry, or you would like a saucier base for the eggs, stir in the water. Stir in the lemon juice. Taste the greens, and adjust the seasonings to your liking, then remove from the heat.

Make 4 teacup-size divots in the greens, leaving a thin layer of greens on the bottom of the skillet. (Ideally, the eggs will not touch the bottom of the pan.) Crack an egg into each hole, add a tiny sprinkle of salt to each egg, and slip the pan into the oven.

Bake for 5 to 7 minutes, or until the egg whites are completely opaque and the yolk has just begun to set.

Make the tadka: In a small, about 6-inch, skillet over medium heat, heat the ghee or oil until it shimmers. Add the caraway and mustard seeds and let bloom in the oil until very fragrant and a shade darker, about 1 minute. Add the coriander and paprika, and remove from the heat.

When the eggs are done, pull the pan out of the oven and drizzle the sizzling tadka over the eggs. Serve hot, family-style.


-Instead of Swiss chard, try kale, mature spinach, collards or mustard greens.

-Aleppo pepper can be any other dried chile flakes.

Nutritional Facts per serving (based on 4) | Calories: 224; Fat: 16 g; Saturated Fat: 3 g; Carbohydrates: 13 g; Sodium: 547 mg; Cholesterol: 186 mg; Protein: 10 g; Fiber: 4 g; Sugar 4 g

This analysis is an estimate based on available ingredients and this preparation. It should not substitute for a dietitian’s or nutritionist’s advice.

Adapted from “Veg-Table” by Nik Sharma (Chronicle, 2023).



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