Thursday, February 26, 2009

Egg Kozhambu - Poached Eggs in Coconut Milk Gravy

Last week, we were forced to finish some of the perishable groceries at home before stepping into the new week for which we had a different diet planned. There were exactly three eggs left which needed to be done with. S is very fond of eggs. However, eggs are a strong taboo at my marital home. S used to tell stories about how he had to sneak in eggs without Pa's knowledge. Ma was always supportive though.

Mum, on the other hand, raised my brother and me on a wonderful egg regime. Invariably, we used to have different kinds of omelets and egg dishes for breakfast with a tall glass of freshly squeezed orange juice – and this was almost every single day when we were kids. When S and I were courting, he would pester Mum to make egg dishes. Remembering this, she sent across a Mallika Badrinath recipe book which contains 100 egg recipes along with plenty of other goodies.

Tired of the usual egg recipes that featured in our kitchen, I wanted to try something out of this recipe book. Mrs. Mallika Badrinath describes this recipe as Egg Kozhambu, but to us, it turned out more like a Thai Egg Curry, or like a Malabar egg dish. So, I am going to whole-heartedly classify this under Malabar cuisine and call it Malabar Egg Kozhambu.

Here’s what you’ll need –
1. Eggs – 6 (I was left with 3 and managed with that)

2. Red Chilies – 5 numbers

3. Coconut – 1 small whole coconut. This is to make extract coconut milk. I used the coconut milk powder dissolved in water instead. (4 tablespoons mixed with 2 cups water)

4. Grated coconut / Desiccated coconut powder – 1 tablespoon (optional)

5. Dhania (Coriander seeds) – 1 tablespoon

6. Jeera (Cumin seeds) – 1 teaspoon

7. Salt – as needed

8. Small onions (Shallots) – 15 numbers

9. Big onions – 2 medium sized ones or 1 big one – chopped finely

10.Turmeric powder – as needed

11.Coriander leaves – for garnishing

Here’s how you dish this up –
1. In very little oil, sauté the chopped shallots, red chilies, dhania and jeera. Allow this to cool down a bit.

2. Grind this along with the grated coconut / coconut powder and mix it with the dissolved coconut milk.

3. In a kadai, heat some oil and temper some cumin seeds. Fry the chopped onions till they turn translucent.

4. Add the coconut milk and masala mixture, salt and turmeric. If the gravy is too thick, add water as needed. This usually is not the case with dissolved coconut milk, so I avoided this step.

5. Allow this gravy to boil. Once it boils, reduce the heat to the lowest possible. Break the eggs one by one into the gravy, next to each other and allow them to set, undisturbed. Since I had just three eggs, I decided to let them poach half way, and then broke them up so they spread all over the gravy.

6. Garnish with coriander leaves. Serve with rice.

Variations –
1. Tomato paste can be added to this gravy. However, that could subtle down the exotic coconut milk flavour.

2. You can prepare this dish with boiled eggs or chopped omelets too.

This dish turned out to be lip-smacking. We decided to share a bowl with our neighbor downstairs. Make sure you do not substitute shallots for big onions. Shallots add a unique and wonderful flavour to any dish they are a part of. In fact, replacing bigger onions with shallots is a better idea when the recipe involves onion pastes, grinded onion, etc. Sadly, in the US, shallots are $3 or more a bag – that is about 20-30 shallots, and they aren’t even half as amazing as their Indian cousins.

It is easy to find a multitude of egg recipes online, but they aren’t all traditional Indian recipes that cater to our taste buds. Thank you, Mrs. Mallika Badrinath, for this recipe. And thank you Mum for sending this book across to me.

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