RECIPE: Tomato and (Poached) Egg Curry

egg curry

Egg curries are a popular dish in Indian cooking. You won’t usually find them in restaurants, but everyone I know who eats eggs has a version. I’d been craving one for a while, and the end of a long week when we needed to go to the grocery seemed like the perfect time to make it. I basically make two kinds, a coconut-milk based curry and a tomato curry. The usual way to prepare the eggs is to hard-boil them and then pierce them so that when you add them to the curry its flavors can infuse the whites.

This time I decided to do something different. I’d seen Janine and Robin talking about Shakshuka on Twitter, and when I looked up some recipes I realized it was very similar to my curries but with the eggs poached in the tomato sauce rather than boiled in advance. So I made the curry with my spice combination and then poached the eggs.

It was amazing. TheHusband wants to have it again very soon and he insisted I write down the recipe so that I wouldn’t forget it. Where better than at a blog where I already post recipes? So here it is.

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RECIPE: Mulligatawny

When I was growing up in India this was always a “Western restaurant” or “tourist hotel” or “Western household” soup to me.  For one thing, the Indian culture I’m from doesn’t have soup as a part of its cuisine. For another, it’s the quintessential Anglo-Indian dish. I probably had it at hotel restaurants or British and Parsi friends’ houses, but it didn’t stick in my memory.

Then I rediscovered the dish in my 20s and realized how delicious it is. The long winters in Chicago probably helped, and I was always looking for one-dish meals as a money- and time-deprived student. There are a million different recipes for Mulligatawny; I’ve even seen one that uses ground lamb. That’s a bridge too far for me, but I prefer the chicken version to the vegetarian one.

It’s been quite cold here for the last few days and both TheHusband and I have been craving both soup and Indian spices, so I made this. It’s not from any particular recipe, I just read a bunch of different ones and came up with my own. It looks like a long list of ingredients but it’s not hard to put together. You’ll need a couple of hours from start to finish.

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RECIPE: Dal with chard

dal chard

Yes, the recipes are back. This is a version of dal palak, which is dal with spinach. It’s found across India, with variations in the recipe: different types of dal, different spice combinations, and different proportions.

I had red chard in the fridge and I hadn’t made toor dal in a while, so I decided to put them together. You can use spinach, obviously, and all kinds of lentils work: split mung, masoor, and even chana.

Note: You can put all the spices in at the beginning if you want to save a step and avoid washing an extra pan, or you can do it the way I did and put some of the spices in with the chard and the rest after the chard and dal have cooked for a while. It’s an Indian thing to add the sautéd spices toward the end of cooking (the mixture is called vaghar where I’m from), and it makes a difference in the taste.

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WEDNESDAY RECIPE: Cheesy Toast

OK, let’s get the disclaimers out of the way first. This is not good for you. This is not difficult. The ingredients are kind of mundane. But it is soooo good.

Cheese toast is one of the great snacks of my childhood and youth. Despite the fact that Indians don’t traditionally make Western-style cheese, during the British era one of the big dairies introduced a type of processed cheese that was shelf-stable and could survive the Indian heat. Hotels and clubs that catered to Europeans and Americans served this, and since we all loved it, it became a staple in some homes as well.

What sets it apart is the marriage of chiles and onions with mild cheese. The cheese is broiled and gooey and soft and then suddenly you get the tang of an onion or the bite of a tiny piece of chile.

You really need to use a boring cheese, like Cojack or mild cheddar or regular monterey jack (in the United States). But not Velveeta or American, because those don’t have the proper flavor.

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WEDNESDAY RECIPE is back: Kedgeree

Kedgeree is a dish of the British Raj. The name is an Anglicization of khichdi, which is a mixture of lentils and rice and traditionally vegetarian. The colonizers kept the rice and spices, added  fish and hard-cooked eggs, and voilà, brunch or supper!

This delicious invention/adaptation found its way back to the home country, and now you can find all sorts of upmarket versions, complete with poached fresh fish, cream and even saffron. The comments to the Guardian’s article in its “How to cook perfect [whatever]” series give you a sense of the variety of preparations and the general affection in which this ultimate comfort food is held.

Many recipes call for curry powder, which I don’t stock, but don’t worry, you can make it with your basic set of Indian spices (that’s what curry powder replaces). And if you don’t have smoked haddock or kippers, you can use other types of smoked herring, trout, or the like. Leftover cooked salmon works really well too.

I learned to make kedgeree with basmati rice, but lately I’ve been using this brown rice medley from Trader Joe’s. It’s higher in complex carbohydrates and adds a nutty flavor. I’ve seen similar blends at our local international market as well. If you prefer classic, stick with white rice.

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