It was about ten years ago when I first tasted an Indian curry made with hard-boiled eggs. It was at a dinner hosted by an Indian-American friend who’d planned a menu of her family favorites. Her mom was in town and among the dishes that Aradhna prepared was an egg curry. The soft-chewy texture of the whites and richness of yolk was unexpected and captivating.
Up to that point, my curry experiences were with meats, seafood, and/or vegetables. Boiled eggs? It never occurred to me until that day to use eggs as the protein element in a curry. On the other hand, how could I have been blind for so long? Viet cooks simmer boiled eggs in caramel sauce. Chinese cooks simmer eggs in tea. Why not simmer the eggs in a thick sauce? Duh!
I’ve occasionally thought about the dish since then but didn’t go looking for the recipe. It’s not the first curry that comes to mind when I think of an Indian dish to prepare. However, this past weekend, while reading Julie Sahni’s Savoring India, a cookbook that’s rich in history, culture, and photography, I came across this recipe for “eggs braised in fragrant gravy.” Sahni’s recipe for anda masala comes from Uttar Pradesh in northern India.
I had some great local eggs and tomato from the farmers’ market so I was game. Plus, the recipe was very simple. Despite its ease, the dish involved classic Indian approaches to layering flavors that involves frying up cumin seeds during the initial tadka process, cooking down the onion until it starts to caramelize, adding the spices and simmering with the wet ingredients (tomato and water, in this case).
The result was fabulous and achievable with little stress. If you’re a vegetarian or new at Indian cooking, this is a good recipe to try.
Northern Indian Egg Curry
I found Sahni’s recipe on Saturday night and decided to make it for lunch on Sunday. My husband picked some fresh green beans from the garden and boiled them in salted water for a side. Warm corn tortillas were our instant flatbread. You could use wheat tortillas, naan or chapati. Basmati rice would be terrific too. When good tomatoes are out of season, use 3/4 cup of canned tomato puree.
Serves 2 as a main dish, 4 as a side dish
4 large or extra large eggs, hard-boiled
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 teaspoon cumin seed
1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
3-inch piece cassia bark or cinnamon stick, broken in half
2 teaspoons ground coriander or coriander seed, toasted and pounded
1/2 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
About 1/2 teaspoon salt
2 medium or 1 large ripe tomato, pureed (about 3/4 cup)
1 cup water
1 tablespoon coarsely chopped cilantro leaves
1. Peel the eggs and let them soak in water to cover while you prepare the sauce. This soaking seems to prevent the whites from getting too rubbery. Set aside.
2. In a medium skillet or wide, shallow pan, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the cumin seed and cook, stirring, for about 15 seconds, until slightly darkened and fragrant.
Add the tomato and cooking for 3 to 5 minutes, stirring, until it no longer smells raw. Add the water, bring to a boil. Lower the heat to low, cover, and gently simmer for 5 minutes to develop the flavor.
3. Meanwhile, drain the eggs, pat them dry, then halved each lengthwise. When the sauce has finished simmering, uncover and slide the eggs in, cut side up. Increase the heat to medium-low and simmer the eggs, spooning sauce on the top, until the eggs are hot. Adjust the heat as necessary. The sauce should cook down and thicken a bit during this final stage.
4. Transfer the eggs and sauce to individual serving dishes or a communal dish. Garnish with the cilantro and serve immediately.
- Hard-boiled egg tips
- Video tip: How to easily peel eggs
- Deviled Eggs Tips: Centering the Yolk & Medium Eggs
- Indian Rice and Lentil Dumplings with Coconut Cilantro Chutney (Kuzhi Paniyaram)*
- Modern Indian Chile Pea Puffs*
- Gujarati Wheat Dumplings in Spiced Lentils (Dal Dhokli)*
- Egg Curry in Tamarind Sauce (from Vahredva.com)
* On Asiandumplingtips.com
If you're familiar with Indian egg curry, what is your approach?