Here’s a fun question—how do you like your eggs?
Scrambled? Poached? Runny with a sprinkle of salt and freshly ground pepper? Or perhaps sunny side up?
Personally, I’ve never done poached eggs. I like sunny side up, but then of course, I wouldn’t touch the sun. Runny eggs? Can’t stand them either. Er, correction—it’s the yolk I can’t stand. With the exception of omelet.
The simple act of whipping white and yellow to perfection, then sizzling on the tava with chops of red onion, green chilies, tomato, fresh curry leaves, ginger, and a few dots of butter—yum-yum—is nostalgia-laden. And who are we kidding? Omelet is not just comfort—the taste is downright awesome, and so very, very addictive. Oh man, I can have it for breakfast, lunch and dinner. And still crave a fluffy bite for snack time between two slices of bread. Okay, go ahead, judge me.
Of course, when considering favorite egg recipes, I can’t stop at omelets. There are more that deserve mention. For example, egg roast. Yea, I have a thing for good egg roast too. Egg roast the Kerala way.
Given that we have chicken and duck running around the courtyard of most rural homes in India, there is never a shortage of fresh organic eggs. Needless to say, egg is a kitchen staple in homes without (religious) dietary restrictions. There are countless ways of cooking eggs—fried, curried, and baked are all common—and the preparation varies from state to state, region to region. Gee, with the complexity of 28 states, 7 union terretories, 18 regional languages, 2000 plus ethnic groups, and a population of over 1 billion, trying to come up with a number for the different ways any ingredient is used in India would be an exercise in futility!
Egg roast and appam is a staple in Kerala, mostly found on the breakfast table across the state. It’s a meal from nostalgia land for me—I always enjoyed it as a child. And continue to do so until today. But frankly, I don’t make it often enough. And I wonder why.
Caramelized onion infused with aromatic spices and a soft mash of tangy tomatoes make the base of this classic curry. The taste is simply outstanding, even non eggoholics are instantly lured. The simple onion-tomato gravy is eggs-cellent on its own. And of course you can control the spice level to stop your mouth lighting on fire!
Okay, now for a few tricks to remember. Briefly toasting the ground spices in a bit of oil intensifies the flavor of the spice blend. Cooking onion until almost caramelized is the key to the appetizing reddish brown color and beautiful flavor. Add a bit of salt to help the onions cook faster and brown evenly. Traditionally coconut oil is used to make the curry. However, I use olive oil and limit the use of coconut oil for just that finishing drizzle.
This makes a perfect meal for those who are not heavily into meat, and even if you are, you will not be missing the meat—I promise.
Unpretentious. Easy. Delicious. A brilliant curry for breakfast, brunch or dinner. Need more? Eggs are a source of high proteins, vitamins, and minerals, with a caloric cost of just 70 calories per egg.
Time to get cracking, huh? Eggs-actly.
Kerala Style Egg Roast — Naadan Mutta Roast
Prep+cooking: about 30 min
4 hard-boiled eggs, peeled
2 tablespoons oil
2 ½ teaspoons ginger-garlic paste
3 large onions, halved and thinly sliced lengthwise
1 large tomato, or 8 plum tomatoes, chopped small
3 green chilies, sliced
12 curry leaves, torn
1 ½ teaspoons Kashmiri chili powder
½ teaspoon turmeric powder
½ teaspoon garam masala powder
¼ teaspoon black pepper powder
¾ teaspoon fennel powder
1/3 cup water
Heat oil in a heavy bottomed kadai or wok over medium-high heat. Add ginger-garlic and cook, stirring, until fragrant, 1 minute. Tip in onion with a bit of salt, and cook, stirring frequently, until soft, dark golden brown and slightly caramelized, about 10-15 minutes. Then add chilies, curry leaves and tomatoes and cook, until tomatoes are broken down into a soft mass, 5 minutes. Push the onion-tomato mixture to the side of the pan, drizzle a bit of oil, and toast the spice mix—chili, turmeric, garam masala, black pepper, fennel—for a few seconds until fragrant. Then add water and stir to combine. Season to taste.
Cut a few gashes lengthwise in the egg white, or cut each egg lengthwise into half, and add to the wok. Reduce heat to low and simmer for a few minutes until spices are absorbed, about 3 minutes. Splash a bit of water if masala gets too dry. Switch off heat and drizzle with extra coconut oil, if you like.
Serve hot with warm appam, flatbread, or rice.
Note: To boil eggs, add cold water to cover and cook over high heat for about 15 minutes. Drain and rinse under cold running water, then shell when cool enough to handle.
For a change, I served this for lunch, together with steamed rice, and my family scarfed down the curry with no leftovers for dinner. It’s just that good.