Egg and Lentil Curry with Coconut and Pickled Lime
This is one of my very favourite storecupboard recipes. If you always keep a stock of spices and lentils handy and a pack of creamed coconut stashed away in the fridge, you can whip this one up in no time at all. It also happens to be inexpensive and highly suitable for vegetarians.
|4 large eggs|
|3 oz (75 g) green lentils|
|3 oz (75 g) creamed coconut|
|1 rounded teaspoon lime pickle|
|juice and grated zest ½ fresh lime|
|1 large onion|
|1 small red chilli (preferably bird eye)|
|2 fat cloves garlic|
|1 inch (2.5 cm) piece root ginger|
|3 cardamom pods, crushed|
|1 level teaspoon cumin seeds|
|1 level teaspoon fennel seeds|
|1 level dessertspoon coriander seeds|
|2 tablespoons groundnut or other flavourless oil|
|1 rounded teaspoon turmeric powder|
|1 level teaspoon fenugreek powder|
|5 fl oz (150 ml) rice, cooked|
|a little extra lime pickle|
|mango chutney (optional)|
|Need help with conversions?|
|You will also need a medium frying pan with a lid.|
This recipe is taken from How to Cook Book One and has also appeared in Sainsbury's Magazine (November 1997)
Start off by getting everything prepared and ready to go. First peel the onion, cut it in half and then into thin slices. Next deseed and finely chop the chilli, peel and chop the garlic as well, then measure out the lime pickle and chop that quite finely.
Now peel and grate the ginger – you need a good heaped teaspoonful. The creamed coconut should be shredded with a sharp knife and placed in a heatproof measuring jug. At this stage put the kettle on to boil.
Now place the frying pan over a medium heat and, as soon as it gets hot, measure the whole spices (cardamom, cumin, fennel and coriander) straight into it. What they need to do now is dry-roast, and this will take 2-3 minutes. Shake the pan from time to time to toss them around a bit and, as soon as they start to jump, remove them from the heat and tip them straight into a mortar.
Now place the pan back over the heat, turn it up high and add the oil. As soon as it is really hot, add the onions and, keeping the heat highish, let them sizzle and brown and become quite dark at the edges, which will take about 4 minutes.
After that, turn the heat back down to medium and add the chilli, ginger, garlic and lime pickle, along with the turmeric and fenugreek. Now crush the roasted spices finely with a pestle, add these to the pan as well, then stir everything together.
See to the coconut next: all you need to do here is pour boiling water up to the 1 pint (570 ml) level in the jug containing the coconut, then whisk it all together.
Now stir the lentils in to join the rest of the ingredients, add the grated lime zest and the coconut liquid, stir again and, as soon as it reaches simmering point, turn the heat down. Put the lid on and let the mixture simmer as gently as possible for 45 minutes, stirring it now and then (don't add any salt at this stage).
About 10 minutes before the end of the cooking time, place the eggs in a saucepan of cold water, bring them up to a gentle simmer and time them for 6-7 minutes, depending on how you like them. When they're ready, let the cold tap run on them until they're cool enough to handle.
When the sauce is ready, season it well with salt and add the lime juice. Now peel the eggs under cold running water, slice them in half and pop them on top of the sauce, giving everything a couple more minutes' cooking with the lid on.
Serve the egg curry with rice, some more lime pickle and perhaps some mango chutney to add a touch of sweetness.
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