Tanzanian Chips Mayai (Omelete w. Fries)
Say hello to your new brunch staple
This dish is so simple and scrumptious that it’s mind-blowing. Its so easy that I’m surprised I never thought about this idea myself. So, how do you pronounce it? Chips [my-eye] or Chipsi Mayai, essentially its an African omelette.The name is partially from the Brits which call the fried spuds chips but us Americans call them french fries. Mayai means egg in Kiswahili. While this would make an excellent brunch or breakfast dish in America, during the filming of our #AfroFoodFriday YouTube Vlog segment they adamantly told me that this would never be served for breakfast in Tanzania. They, being my husband and our featured Tanzanian home cook Brian Lema. It’s more of a lunch, dinner or street food. As a matter of fact the very first time I tasted this delight, I was dating my boyfriend (now husband) and it was his turn to cook dinner. (Yes he can burn in the kitchen #win) When I saw him making it, in my head I was screaming, “oh my God what is he doing??”. After I put the first bite in my mouth, I was like “yeeeeeeeees”. It was the perfect mixture of texture, salt and satisfaction. Don’t forget to top it with either ketchup or kachumbari. Otherwise it will taste incomplete. It can be made in 3 simple steps:
1. Make (or buy) the fries
This step is the most time consuming. Mainly because you have to wait for the grease to warm up to fry the fries. While you are waiting also pre-heat your oven to broil. I have secret technique I use in step 3.
Forgive me Tanzanians but I’m calling the chips, fries, so that I don’t confuse my American readers (and myself).
I typically make my own fries because it’s fresher and that’s how they do it in East Africa. However, for our live #AfroFoodFriday cooking segment we used a quality brand of frozen fries by Alexia. I used regular fries during the taping but sometimes I use sweet potatoes fries for extra nutrients and a burst of unexpected flavor. I honestly ran out of time before we scheduled to film and didn’t have time to pre-peel and chop the potatoes. If you want to save even more time consider stopping at Bo’jangles (I live in the south) or your favorite fast food location. Pickup an extra large order and unapologetically proceed to step 2.
Tip: Make sure your fries are very brown and extremely crunchy because they will be going into the wet egg mixture.
2. Mix the eggs
This is the easiest step. Simply crack 3 to 5 eggs in a mixing bowl. The smaller your pan is the less eggs you will need. A 12″ skillet will definitely require at least 5 eggs, a 10″ skillet or below can get away with less than 5 eggs. If you are using a non-stick skillet please make sure the handle is safe for oven usage. Click here for a few of my favorite oven-safe non-stick skillets. Otherwise a seasoned cast iron skillet will still work like a charm. Now, whisk the eggs in the mixing bowl for a few minutes. You want to make sure the mixture is combined well, otherwise you will have white speck throughout you omelette (like in my picture above #fail).
3. Cook the fries with eggs
I saw fresh cut fries on just about every street corner while I was in Tanzania. However, they do not mix the eggs with the fries until you place your order. So please do not put the eggs into the skillet until the fries are ready. Set your skillet to medium heat then add a little oil or butter. First place your fries on the bottom of the pan and then immediately pour the whisked egg mixture on top. Let it cook for a few minutes. Now it’s time for my secret trick. I had many #epicfails trying to flip this omelette. With practice and a lot spilled eggs I finally got it right but I prefer consistency. The best way I found that I could land all of my eggs onto the plate was by not flipping the omelette at all. Instead, after I let it cook on the first side for a few minutes, I then pop it into the oven with the broil setting on high. Make sure you place it on the top rack so that it cooks fast. Let it brown for about 1-2 minutes and Voila! Make sure you keep a close eye on it. This is not the moment to walk away from the oven or else you will burn it or puff up extremely high like a muffin.
After your masterpiece exits the oven, top it with our traditional kachumbari recipe or just ketchup. I know it sounds weird putting ketchup on eggs but when in Tanzania do as the Tanzanians. Enjoy!
- 3 to 5 Eggs
- 1 Potato sliced or 1/2c pre-made fries
- 1/4t Salt
- 2c Canola Oil
- 1/4c Kachumbari or 2T Ketchup
- Preheat the oil in a frying pan. Also, turn the oven broiler on High.
- Once the oil is hot (375º F) add the potato slices and cook until brown.
- Skip this step if you purchased pre-made hot fries. You must cook frozen fries
- Mix the eggs in a mixing bowl
- Add 2T of oil to a non-stick skillet on medium heat.
- Place cooked fries onto the bottom layer and pour the egg mixture on top.
- Cook on one side for about 3 minutes.
- Remove the pan from stovetop and put it under the oven broiler, top rack for approx 2 mins.
- Serve on a plate with Kachumbari or ketchup.