Hard-boiled eggs in a red lentil curry sauce

December 12, 2009

Moving onto the second Madhur Jaffrey in my collection, ‘The Ultimate Curry Bible’. One or two people who know about this little project questioned how we’d cope eating curry for a week, but the range of food encompassed by the heading ‘curry’ is, as this book ably demonstrates, vast. There’s a fair bit of overlap with last week’s book, ‘Far Eastern Cookery’, with thai curries, noodle soups and kebabs all making a thorough appearance. Speaking from experience, this is really not the kind of food you can get sick of in a week.

The book begins with an essay on the history of curry, in which Jaffrey explains how Indian spices and techniques spread across the globe (mainly via colonialists exploiting Indian people for cheap labour and shipping them to various parts of their empire). This evolutionary process is honoured in the recipes, which include British curry sauce and chicken tikka masala – no judgement here about whether a dish is or isn’t authentic.

This egg dish struck me as the perfect way to use up some discounted eggs that were near their best before date, and indeed it was. I’ve often put hard-boiled eggs atop a dal I’ve made to make it a more substantial dinner, and this isn’t too different to that, but the two kinds of pulses give it a bit of textural interest, and, well, I just love this sort of food. Soupy and warming and nourishing and a perfect dinner as the tornado of christmas food threatens to rise up and claim you. I made some chapatis to go with it, which I think were a bit too floury, and a carrot-sultana raita, also from the book,  also very good.

Hard-boiled eggs in a red lentil curry sauce  Serves 2

I’ve halved the original recipe here, which served 4-6. You may also want to know that the recipe notes it’s ‘generally served with rice, chutneys and relishes’.

1 dried, hot red chilli (use more if you actually want it to be spicy – certain people around here don’t)
100g red lentils
45g chana dal or yellow split peas
1/4 tsp ground turmeric
1/2 tsp salt
2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
3cm-ish chunk of ginger, peeled and chopped
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1/2 onion, finely sliced
1 medium tomato, grated on the largest holes of the grater (discard the skin that remains in your hand)
4 hard-boiled eggs, peeled and halved
a little cayenne pepper or paprika for garnishing
lemon wedges for serving

Soak the chilli(es) in 2 tbsp boiling water for about an hour.

Combine the lentils and chana dal/split peas and wash them in several changes of water. Drain and put in a medium sized lidded pan. Add the turmeric and 450ml water and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat to low, partially cover with a lid and cook for about 1 hour, or until soft (you may need to add more water if it starts to boil dry before it’s done). Add the salt and stir to mix.

Put the chilli(es), their soaking liquid, the garlic and the ginger into a blender and blend until smooth. Pour the oil into a medium frying pan and set on a medium-high heat. When the oil is hot, put in the onion and fry until the slices are slightly crisp. Add the garlic-ginger-chilli paste. Stir and fry for 2-3 minutes, then add the tomato. Stir for a further 3-4 minutes. Then empty the contents of the frying pan into the lentil pan. Add about 300ml water (you may want to use less, say 150ml – I think I wanted it thicker than the recipe intended, which is ‘the consistency of flowing double cream’ and ending up simmering off most of this. It depends what consistency you want) and stir to mix. Bring to a simmer and simmer on a low heat for a minute or two while you prepare the dishes.

To serve, place the halved eggs, cut side up, in a single layer in a warmed, large shallow dish. Pour the sauce over the eggs but leave them just visible. Garnish with a light sprinkling of cayenne pepper or paprika and serve with lemon wedges.

Carrot-sultana raita  Serves 4-6

4 tbsp sultanas
350ml natural yoghurt
1/2 tsp salt
1 tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp ground roasted cumin seeds (dry-roast in a frying pan until darkened and fragrant)
black pepper
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper (depending on how hot you want it)
2 medium carrots, peeled and grated

Soak the sultanas in boiling water for as long as you have (the recipe says 3 hours, but I think I only left them in for about 30 minutes). Drain.

Lightly beat the yoghurt in a bowl until creamy and smooth. Add the salt, sugar, roasted cumin, black pepper and cayenne pepper and stir to mix. Add the carrots and sultanas and mix again. This will keep, covered, in the fridge for a couple of days, although the yoghurt may start to separate slightly.

Adapted from Madhur Jaffrey’s ‘Ultimate Curry Bible’.


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