An Indian Mother’s Helper when no Meat is to be had: Undda (Egg) Curry from the Raj’s Khan-e-Samans (Chefs)

January 8, 2012

How many times have eggs come to your rescue for quick dinner fixes?

In the kitchens of the Raj, the Chefs, or in the Vernacular, the Khans (Chiefs) of the Saman (Paraphernalia, in this case Cooking Utensils, Implements and Ingredients) created recipes for impromptu meals for  British Officers and soldiers, who, if the recipes are anything to go by, seemed to be perpetually running from pillar to posting.  These native Chefs must have never imagined that they were pioneers of Anglo-Indian Cuisine, the first fusion repertoire from the subcontinent.  For example, Kedgeree was originally a melange of leftover fish, meat, rice, lentils, vegetables from the previous night, a hearty breakfast named after its Indian source, the well loved Khichdi. And the perennial restaurant favorite, Chicken Jalfrezi, which I thought to be of Persian extraction, was actually and originally Chicken Jaldi-Fry.   Jaldi! or Quick! was as popular a phrase with the impatient British as their bellowing Koi Hai?  (anyone back there?), a phrase that was born in the Officer’s Mess in India and died there when officers went back to Old Blighty. However, a  few Hindustanee phrases survived their return home, and were common parlance in some quarters, among Agatha Christie characters (of Indian careers and English cottages) for example. Now almost all this has also  gone the way of the Empire.

Happily, though, Indian Cuisine thrives, regardless.

On the British Isles, curry is as British as the best of them.

It is, as they might have said back then, and a handful say even now, Very Pukka!


Khan-e-Saman’s Egg Curry

2 tablespoons canola oil

1 tsp whole cumin seed

1 medium onion diced

1 large tomato diced

1 tsp ground cumin

1 tsp ground coriander

salt to taste

1 tsp turmeric

good pinch cayenne pepper

2 large potatoes boiled, quartered

one Serrano chile chopped for mild version

(3 Serrano chilies diced for hot version)

2 cups water

6 Hard Boiled Eggs

2 cups chopped fresh cilantro

Heat oil on medium high heat.

(Some like the eggs  fried golden brown when the oil is heated, and set aside. Then follow the recipe below. Or add the eggs in the end without frying. It is your choice.)

Add whole cumin seed, sizzle a few seconds. Add onions, stir fry 2 minutes, add tomatoes, stir. Add ground cumin, ground coriander, salt, turmeric, cayenne pepper. Stir fry, add potatoes, chilies, water, eggs, cover and cook for five minutes on medium high.

Add cilantro and cook uncovered for another minute or so. Add a little more water if required.

Serve with hot boiled/steamed rice and a salad of chopped red radish and scallions.


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