Sunday, March 3, 2013

Egg and Vegetable Stew (with variations for chicken, beef or lamb)

This stew is a traditional Syrian Christian curry served for breakfast with Appam (lacy rice pancakes). I like to have it any time of the day with toasted bread, if there's no ready batter for appams. It's very rustic and hearty, like the filling of a pot pie. (Maybe I will try it in a pot pie someday).

Serves: 4-6

Eggs - 4 large
Onion - 1 medium size, chopped
Ginger - 1 inch, minced
Green chillies - 3 or as per your spice level
Chopped Vegetables - 2 cups (preferably potatoes, cauliflower, carrots, french beans, green peas)
Mustard seeds - 1 tsp
Cinnamon sticks - 1 large broken to small pieces
Cloves - 4-6
Green cardamom pods - 4
Bay leaf - 1
Curry leaves - 1 sprig (optional)
Black pepper corns - 6-8
White pepper powder - 2 tsp (optional)
Black pepper powder - 1 tsp
Turmeric - a pinch
Red chilli powder - a pinch (optional)
Coriander powder - 1 tsp (optional)
Garam masala - a pinch (optional)
Coconut milk - 1 cup
Water - 2 cups
Oil (vegetable/canola) - 2 tbsp (For authenticity, use coconut oil - its an acquired taste)

Hard boil the eggs and keep aside to cool. Meanwhile chop all the vegetables and store in a mixing bowl.
In a large pot, heat 2 tbsp of oil. Add mustards seeds and let is splutter. Add the whole spices - cinnamon, cloves, cardamom, bay leaf, peppercorns. Once their aroma starts to exude, add the chopped onions, ginger, green chillies and curry leaves. Saute until the onions are translucent. Then add the powdered spices - turmeric, white pepper, black pepper, red chilli powder, coriander powder. Mix for a minute. Then add the chopped vegetables and enough water to just cover the vegetables. Cover and cook until the vegetables are cooked through. Meanwhile peel the cooled eggs and halve them, if desired. Once vegetables are cooked, reduce the heat, and pour coconut milk. Let it cook and reduce until you get the desired consistency of gravy. Finally sprinkle garam masala and add the hardboiled eggs. Serve with appams, chappathis or toasted slices of bread.

Note: You can make different variations of this stew. Leave the eggs out and it becomes a vegetable stew. Add cubed chicken pieces instead of the vegetables and it becomes a chicken stew. For beef or lamb stew, cook the meat separately with a small amount of water or even pressure cook it, before adding it to the stew.
If you don't have coconut milk, use regular milk.