One of my father’s cousins owned a chicken farm in Delhi and every few years we were invited for a big family reunion. We always asked our cousins to take us to see the chicks. They were fluffy, postcard-cute and perfect, running around in their large pen. I never asked what my uncle did with all these chicks and chickens; I just accepted it like I did our large, loud and interesting extended family. We always left with a basket of fresh eggs which would be eaten over the next few days as fried eggs on toast (sprinkled with salt and red chilli powder), or delicious egg curries. Since then I have always loved egg curry with rice, which is so much tastier than it sounds. There are many versions in India, but perhaps the most famous is this Malayali breakfast dish from Kerala, a tangle of browned onions, curry leaves, green chillies and tomatoes. Try it with rice dosa, or some buttered toast!
There are many versions in India, but perhaps the most famous is this Malayali breakfast dish from Kerala, a tangle of browned onions, curry leaves, green chillies and tomatoes. Try it with rice dosa, or some buttered toast!
- 6 eggs
- 3 tbsp coconut oil
- 1 tsp unsalted butter or ghee
- 12–14 fresh or dried curry leaves
- 2–3 Indian green finger chillies (chiles), stalks removed, pierced with a knife
- 2 red onions, thinly sliced
- 12 g (scant 1 tbsp) finely chopped root ginger (peeled weight)
- 3 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
- ⅔ tsp ground turmeric
- 1 tsp ground fennel seeds
- 1 tbsp ground coriander
- ¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper
- ¼ tsp chilli (chili) powder, or to taste
- 1 tsp garam masala (fresh if possible)
- 2 tomatoes, sliced
- handful of chopped coriander (cilantro), to serve
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
Heat a pan of hot water big enough to fit the eggs. Once it is boiling, add the eggs and boil for 10 minutes. Pour out the water and remove the eggs.
Meanwhile, heat the coconut oil and butter in a wide non-stick saucepan. Add the curry leaves and chillies and fry for 40 seconds. Add the onions and some salt and sauté until soft and colouring on the edges; this is important as this dish is characterised by the tangle of browned onions. Add the ginger and garlic and cook gently until the garlic smells cooked. Add the powdered spices and give them a few good stirs in the pan.
Now tip in the tomatoes and cook for 10–12 minutes or until soft, and the masala releases oil back into the pan.
Meanwhile, peel the eggs and halve lengthways, or cut a deep lengthways slit into each without going the whole way through.
Add 120 ml (½ cup) water to the pot and return to the boil. Taste and adjust the seasoning, add the eggs, stir once, or shake the pan to bring it all together, cover and simmer for 4–5 minutes, then serve sprinkled with coriander.
Recipe from I Love India by Anjum Anand, photography by Martin Pool (Hardie Grant Books, hb, $39.99). Read Anjum’s essay on the many regional variations of Indian food here.