I grew up eating meat in a vegetarian family. While there was no meat cooked at home, my parents did not take issue with me eating meat when we went out to eat or if we went over for dinner to friends’ who ate meat. Eggs were a different matter, they could be cooked and eaten at home. One of my fondest dishes from childhood is egg curry. This is a thick spicy North Indian style curry with boiled eggs added for protein. While this dish can be found pretty much all over India, Punjabi chefs have made it into an art form, in fact my mouth waters simply thinking about one that I had in Mumbai at a Punjabi eatery many many years back. What is baffling to me is that this mainstay of North Indian restaurants all over India is pretty much excluded from menus in Indian restaurants oveseas. In all my travels, and there have been a few, I can only remember a couple of restaurants in New Jersey that served this drool-worthy delicacy.
So, given a) that I love this dish and b) that I don’t have access to a restaurant that serves it, the time had come as they say to gird the loins and get on with recreating this dish.
I started off with a standard onion, tomato, garlic-ginger North Indian curry. That didn’t do the trick. There was something missing. Next time I added whole garam masala (Stick cinnamon, cloves, cardamom, bay leaf). It was better but we weren’t there yet. Next I tried to make a gravy for cholle and use boiled eggs. Good, but no cigar. Then, I took a trip to India and had egg curry at the source. That’s when it hit me. I was missing peppercorns. That was it. The next time the outcome was much better. And then the piece de resistance was suggested to me by my good friend Sheetal – cashew nuts. They added the necessary thickness and creaminess. And so, ladies and gentlemen (drum roll), may I present to you, my much-evolved, kick-ass egg curry recipe.
- 1 Tbsp cooking oil
- Whole garam masala
– 4 green cardamom
– 1 black cardamom
– 1 inch stick cinnamon
– 1 Bay leaf
– 3-4 cloves
– 10-12 black peppercorns
- 1 onion chopped
- 2 medium tomatoes – chopped
- 1 inch ginger – peeled and chopped
- 1 tsp minced garlic
- ½ tsp turmeric powder
- ¼ tsp chili powder
- 1 tsp freshly ground coriander seeds
- 1 tsp garam masala
- 3 tbsp cashews, soaked in water
- 1 tsp Kasoori Methi (fenugreek leaves) – can be found at most Indian stores
- 2% milk
- 6 boiled eggs, peeled and halved lengthwise.
- Heat the oil and add whole garam masala till it starts to sputter (or the bay leaf starts to brown)
- Add the onions and lightly brown them
- Add the ginger-garlic mixture and cook for a 1-2 minutes.
- Add the tomatoes
- Put in the turmeric, chili and coriander powder. TIP: If you want to add a bit of kick, add some chopped green chili at this step. 1-2 chilies should taste good.
- Add salt to taste – the mixture should be slightly oversalted because you will be diluting the mix later
- Let this cook till tomatoes are pulpy
- Cool the mixture and puree it with cashews after discarding the bay leaf. TIP: You can add more cashews if you want a thicker gravy.
- This is your gravy, you can now dilute it with water, 2% milk or cream. You want it fairly thick.
- Add 1 tsp toasted Kasoori Methi.
- Add the boiled eggs. TIP – I discard half the yolk to reduce Cholesterol. You may choose to do that as well.
- Bring to a boil and serve with a bread, like Naan, of your choice or on rice.