Sunday, February 8, 2015

Eggs From Our Sundarbans Trip

ক্যাপসিকাম ও পাপরিকা দিয়ে ডিম ভুনা 

Eggs, Red Pepper & Smoked Paprika Bhuna

Egg bhuna, served with khichuri on the boat during our trip
through the Sundarbans. From my Instagram feed.

Curried eggs have a long history in my family. In Bangladesh, they represent a cheap, inexpensive way to incorporate protein into a family's diet. Growing up, I had a great dislike for eggs and currying them used to be one of my mom's tactics to get me to eat them. They're also easier (read: quicker) to cook than meat, and therefore often a common enough recourse when she was pressed for time in the kitchen. This recipe is my own, based on the basic chicken curry recipe I posted long ago here. The addition of smoked paprika is the result of a slight personal obsession, and the red pepper gives the dish sweet-sour notes without resorting to sugar or yoghurt. I have been cooking this dish for a while, and have served it to guests when a vegetarian main has been called for.

On the left, the banks of the forest as we sailed past.
On the right, the beach our walk eventually took us to.

Our trip to the Sundarbans for New Year's Eve served as a reminder to post this, as the chef on board our ship served a very lightly spiced version of this with khichuri for breakfast. It made for a heavy breakfast, which was reasonable in light of the walking we were going to be doing throughout the day. Unless you're preparing for a similar excursion, I would recommend serving this as a main or side dish for dinner or lunch. 

  • 3 eggs
  • 1.00 medium onion
  • 1.00 stick of cinnamon, 2 cm long
  • 0.75 teaspoons of smoked paprika
  • 1.00 teaspoon of garlic paste
  • 0.75 teaspoons of ginger paste
  • 0.50 teaspoons of powdered turmeric
  • 0.50 teaspoons of powdered cumin
  • 2 to 3 cardamoms
  • 2 to 3 cloves
  • Chilli powder, to taste
  • Fresh chilli, to taste
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • Salt, to taste

  • Chop the pepper into thin slices about 2 cm long 
  • Place in a pot with some oil and 0.25 teaspoons of paprika, and fry for 2 to 3 minutes on medium before setting aside
  • Chop the onion and add it to the same pot along with the cinnamon, pouring in a little more oil if necessary. Fry on medium-high heat until the onion starts to go brown 
  • Add the garlic and ginger, lower the heat to medium, stir to mix and continue frying for a minute
  • Add the turmeric, cumin, chilli and smoked paprika, along with the cloves, cardamom and salt, stirring to mix. Taking the pot off the heat while doing this may be easier as the spices burn and stick quickly

  • Continue cooking the spice mixture on medium heat for 15 minutes, adding boiling water as necessary to prevent it from drying out. It should resemble the mixture in the photo above
  • While the spices are cooking, hard boil the eggs 
  • Put the eggs in a small pot and cover with water. Turn the heat on high, bring to boil and let the eggs cook for 8 to 10 minutes before running them under cold water
I cut my eggs in half to get some of the yolk
into the sauce, but it made managing them a
lot harder
  • Peel the eggs, and if feeling adventurous, cut them in half before adding to the spice mixture
  • Halving the eggs lets some of a yolk mix in with the sauce, but makes managing them much harder (leaving them whole is an easier option)
  • Add the freshly ground black pepper to the dish, stir to mix everything thoroughly, taking care to not displace the yolk

  • Leave the dish to cook for 6 minutes, and add boiling water as necessary if it starts to dry out
  • Taste for salt, and adjust as necessary
  • Add the previously fried peppers and fresh chilli, stirring to mix
  • Cook for a final 5 minutes before taking off the heat
  • Serve with rice-based carbs

Additional Information
Honestly - don't slice the eggs in half unless you're very confident about your stirring skills! The hard boiled eggs in this dish can be substituted for fried eggs, as long as the yolks are solid. It makes for a messier looking meal, but adds more interesting textures to the dish. Finally, the paprika and red pepper also work well added to the original chicken recipe this post is based on.

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