Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Masala Egg Curry

Masala Egg Curry
Photograph by Leticia Alaniz © 2014
All Rights Reserved
Every culture has its comfort foods; those foods that make us feel good and that we can accomplish to cook at home with a few ingredients and repeat the recipe over and over again.  They become staples in the household or maybe even become a tradition on specific days and fill our memories with joy as we look forward to sitting down at home to a nice warm plate of comfort food.  Everything about comfort food is calming and soothing.  

Thinking more of an international palate I started wondering what the comfort foods of other cultures might be.  In my Mexican culture I remember coming home to a bowl of warm and spicy pinole atole or porridge that was made of ground toasted corn, cinnamon, cloves, anise seeds, sugar, and milk.  It was heavenly aromatic goodness.  My mother used to first toast the dry corn in a clay pot called a cazuela, then grind the corn which filled the house with a wonderful aroma.  The next step was to add the milk, the spices and the sugar and stir until it became a creamy, fluffy porridge.  It was especially good on chilly rainy days.  It became a tradition since my father grew a lot of corn and there was always plenty of it.  

Weekend breakfasts have always been a comforting time to spend with the family in our household.  They always seem to be a lot more special, elaborate and laid back.  Since egg dishes form a great part of Mexican breakfasts, I decided to seek out egg dishes of Indian cuisine.  There are so many varieties.  Most dishes include plenty of chile and spice.  They’re a reminder of what I’m already used to in Mexican egg dishes which always feature lots of warm spicy salsa and tortillas.  

There is no doubt that egg is an essential protein and naturally, I found a perfect Indian dish that can be prepared easily which fills the protein requirement in our diets and fits the description of spicy, aromatic, warm, and most of all comforting deliciousness.  It is comparable to the Mexican dish huevos rancheros, except the eggs are hard boiled first.   I like to prepare this dish for anytime of the day, but I especially like it for breakfast served with chapatis or tortillas, roasted potatoes, yoghurt, fruit, and a very hot and fragrant fresh cup of coffee.

Masala Egg Curry

4 large or extra large eggs, hard-boiled
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 teaspoon cumin seed
1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
3-inch piece cinnamon stick
2 teaspoons ground coriander or coriander seed, toasted and pounded
1/2 teaspoon ground dried red chile
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
About 1/2 teaspoon salt
2 medium or 1 large ripe tomato chopped in small pieces or pureed (about 3/4 cup)
1 cup water
1 tablespoon coarsely chopped cilantro leaves

1. Peel the eggs and let them soak in water to cover while you prepare the sauce. 

2. In a medium skillet or wide, shallow pan, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the turmeric powder to the oil and let soak for about 30 seconds.  Add the eggs and swirl around for about a minute until they are fried and coated in the turmeric oil.  Take out the eggs and set aside.  To the same oil, add the cumin seed and cook, stirring, for about 15 seconds, until slightly darkened and fragrant.  

Add the onion and cinnamon. Cook, stirring frequently, for about 6 minutes, until the onion has become a golden brown. Add the coriander, red ground chile, garlic, and salt.

Continue cooking for about 2 minutes, until the garlic has lightly fried.

Add the tomato and cook for 3 to 5 minutes, stirring, until it softens and thickens.  Add the water, bring to a boil. Lower the heat to low, cover, and gently simmer for 5 minutes to develop the flavor.
3. When the sauce has finished simmering, uncover and slide the eggs in. Increase the heat to medium-low and simmer the eggs, spooning sauce on the top, until the eggs are hot. Adjust the heat as necessary. The sauce should cook down and thicken a bit during this final stage.

4. Transfer the eggs and sauce to individual serving dishes or a communal dish. Garnish with the cilantro and serve immediately.
This recipe serves 2  
( In the photo above I doubled the recipe)

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Andhra Prawn Fry or Royalla Vepudu

Andhra Prawn Fry (Royalla Vepudu)
Photograph by Leticia Alaniz © 2013
All Rights Reserved
India is a country with an extremely diverse cuisine.  There are many regions, and each region specializes in dishes highly evolved according to available ingredients.  This is hardly surprising given the versatile cooking techniques and the ingenuity of combining flavors to shape a unique dish.  

In the coastal regions of the state of Andhra Pradesh, seafood doesn’t fall short on the menus.  The aquatic prosperity of Andhra can be attributed to its abundant water supply from the delta of the Godavari and Krishna rivers along with the great Bay of Bengal.  

The sea is home to innumerable forms of life.  Thru the years of its history man has learned to use its resources for his survival and has depended on the sea’s generosity.  From the vast array of aquatic products that can be harvested from the sea, prawn or shrimp are considered one of the most valuable.  

An early morning visit to the fish markets in Andhra proves the best possible choice in the bounty of the sea  as well as the catch from inland rivers, reservoirs, lakes, and southern backwaters.  Fishermen bring their catch for sale on the spot, for transporting around India, or for quick freezing for international shipping.
Boats have come ashore as the sun rises in coastal Andhra
Photograph by Leticia Alaniz © 2013
All Rights Reserved

The cuisine of Andhra is one of the spiciest of all Indian cuisines and it represents a culinary joy combining spices, meats and seafood of which all are abundant.  It is exotic, rich and aromatic, and when prawns come into the kitchens of expert cooks it is a delight to the senses and the soul.  

Indian cooks, especially in the coastal communities have many recipes along with plenty of imagination for improvisation with only a few ingredients.  As with all seafood recipes from anywhere in the world, Indian recipes rely on ultra-fresh seafood.  

Following is one of Andhra’s most exotic recipes for prawns: Royalla Vepudu or commonly known as Andhra style prawn fry.  With plenty of spice its for those who prefer robustly flavored dishes or for those who have a flare for  a dish that will tickle the senses all at once.  Andhra style prawn fry is excellent in flavor and with its delicate aroma, its one of the jewels of indian seafood.  This dish can be served with rice or enjoyed as an appetizer paired with a medium body craft beer such as IPA, Bock or Ale, or even a very chilled favorite Lager.  

Andhra Prawn Fry
(Royalla Vepudu)

Preparation 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
4 Servings


500 gms prawns, peeled and deveined
1 1/2” ginger 
3 green chiles
1 1/2 tsp of red chile powder
1/4 tsp turmeric powder
1 tbsp lemon juice or yoghurt
1/4 cup water
3 finely minced garlic cloves
2 medium, finely slices onions  
1/2 tsp fennel seed powder
15-20 curry leaves
2 tbsp grated coconut
1/2 tsp fenugreek powder (optional)
1tsp coriander powder
1 1/2 tbsp garam masala powder
1 1/2 tbsp cooking oil
salt to taste
Fishermen at a coastal market in Andhra Pradesh, India
Photograph by Leticia Alaniz
© 2013 All Rights Reserved

Method of Preparation

Grind the ginger and green chiles to form a paste.  

Marinate the prawns in the ginger and chile paste along with 3/4 tsp chile powder, turmeric powder, lemon   juice or yoghurt, and salt for 10 minutes.

Add 1/4 cup of water to marinated prawns and bring to a boil, reduce to medium heat and cook for 6 to 8 minutes.  Remove from heat and drain any excess water.

Heat oil in a pan, add minced garlic cloves and sauté for half a minute.  Add sliced onions, fennel seed powder and curry leaves and sauté for approximately 7 to 8 minutes until the onions are caremelized. 

Add the cooked prawns, coconut, the remainder of the chile powder, fenugreek powder, coriander powder, and garam masala powder.  Dry stir fry for 3 minutes over medium high heat.  Season with salt and turn off heat.  Serve immediately.