August 26, 2013
The first time I had egg curry was at the Bombay Club restaurant in Washington, D.C. when I used to be a Capitol Hill staffer. We would go as groups on the weekend to splurge on their champagne/naan brunch. It was addictive. As was the royal environment. I have certain opinions about the British and their time in India, but the decor brought back positive aspects of the time – tennis whites, the club atmosphere, and a sense of spoiling yourself. Everything my grandfather epitomized as a lawyer in the city of Chandigarh (the capital of the state of Punjab in India).
There is just something about egg curry that makes me want some every few years. Maybe it’s the combination of the spices, tartness of the tomatoes, and warmth of boiled eggs that makes the dish especially appealing on a cold and rainy afternoon. Couple it with some warm naan or thick roti and you’re ready to go.
Serves 4 – 6
10 eggs, boiled and peeled
¼ teaspoon turmeric powder
2 teaspoons oil for eggs (I use grapeseed)
2 tablespoons oil for curry (I use grapeseed)
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
½ teaspoon turmeric powder
1 medium red onion, finely diced (1 cup)
2-inch piece ginger, peeled and grated (1 heaping tablespoon)
2 cloves garlic, peeled and grated or minced (1 heaping teaspoon)
6 medium tomatoes, diced (4 cups)
1 – 2 Thai, Serrano, or cayenne chile, stems removed and thinly sliced
1 tablespoon garam masala
1 tablespoon coriander powder
1 teaspoon red chile powder or cayenne
1 tablespoon coarse sea salt
½ cup chopped fresh cilantro
1. Sprinkle the ¼ teaspoon turmeric powder over the eggs and rub lightly until they are coated evenly.
2. Heat 2 teaspoons oil in a 4-quart sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add eggs and sauté until lightly brown, about 2 minutes. Be sure to gently move them around as they cook so that they don’t stick to your pan. Once cooked, remove with a slotted spoon to a plate and set aside to cool. You can leave them whole for the final dish, or slice them in half before adding them back to your sauce. If slicing them, handle with care so that the yolk stays intact. Pan frying the eggs is a tip from my good friend, Naila P., who tells me that egg curry is a specialty in Kashmir where she was raised. I hope this recipe stands up to her standards.
3. In the same sauté pan, heat 2 tablespoons oil over medium-high heat. Add cumin and ½ teaspoon turmeric. Cook until the seeds sizzle and brown, about 40 seconds.
4. Add onion and cook until it browns, about 2 minutes. Mix occasionally to avoid sticking.
5. Add garlic and ginger. Cook another minute.
6. Add tomatoes, chile, garam masala, coriander, red chile, and salt. Turn heat down to medium-low and simmer for 12 minutes. Add 1 cup of hot, boiling water, and cook another 3 minutes until all your ingredients pull together and the tomatoes break down.
7. Add cilantro. Cook another minute.
8. Blend down the mixture in a food processor or with an immersion blender.
9. Slowly add the eggs into the mixture. They can either be sliced in half or put back in whole. If you do slice them, be careful that they don’t break and that the yolks stay as in tact as you can keep them. Eat with thick bread like naan.
Tools: 4-quart sauté pan, food processor or immersion blender.
Sidebar: Although I eat plant-strong 98 percent of my days, this is the one dish that does tempt me, precisely why in all my books and interviews I never ever say that I am the poster child for perfection. In fact, I really dislike food labels for this very reason – often they are for others rather than ourselves.
Nor in my life do I ever say ‘never’. Because things change. Life changes. Circumstances change. Change is good as we all strive to be the best us possible. In my mind, being vegan is similar to practicing yoga. It’s a very personal journey that does not need to be declared or shared with everyone. And it is just that – a journey. My journey. Possibly not yours – but then again maybe it will be in some way – some day if you just take the pressure off yourself. You don’t have to give up everything you eat and love immediately to take on a label. No one should do that. Where I do come down is when folks eat fast food and tons of processed food. Keep your food and ingredients real and rarely can you go very wrong.
In my journey I’ve met vegans who won’t even eat honey made by bees that likely in the process perished. And, I’ve met vegans who wear leather from shoes to handbags to belts. So, it’s tough to say which route is the way to go. I say do what seems and feel right to you.