Recently, I have been putting together a cookbook on bread. I love creating my own cookbooks, though none are commercial. I just love getting things together in one place. My first cookbooks were of "Favorite Recipes." Another was of Guatemalan Recipes and a Memoir for my oldest daughter who remembered her life in Guatemala. Another of Vegetarian Recipes for a friend. One is of sweets of all kinds. And on and on and on goes my story. This latest is all on breads.
As I am at the stage of proofreading, and while looking more closely at the recipes, words, descriptions, I came to the chapter on Indian breads, and there are many. Many I have made, and there are so many more I have not made but want to. So in reading a few of the recipes I had written out for myself but not actually put to the test, I came across one for Neer Dosa. For those who are not into Indian food as I am, apparently "neer" means water. Dosa is a very flat, crepe-like bread, often made from leftover Idli batter, but Neer Dosa are purely soaked, then ground, rice and water. They are bland, taste like rice, and as such are meant to accompany well-spiced foods, for breakfast, lunch or snack. One of the suggestions I'd seen on websites was to serve these with a Mangalorean Egg Curry.
I have seen recipes for egg curries, from the earliest times of my interest in all things Indian. To date, I had never made one. Made with hard boiled eggs, essentially the eggs are placed into a well-spiced "gravy" of some kind. Depending on region the type of flavors in that gravy or curry mixture will vary. I was intrigued by the use of the word Mangalorean. I'd heard it used, and even looked it up, but couldn't quite place it. According to Wikipedia, Mangalore (also "Mangaluru") is a major port city on the western coast in the Indian state of Karnataka, in southern India. Being a coastal city, coconut based foods are common.
I found very few recipes while searching "Mangalorean Egg Curry." In general, what I found is that this curry is common in the Konkan region of Mangalore, and is called Ande Ambat, so far as I can tell. Information is sketchy, but "ambat" appears to be a curry mixture, since it is used for other things like prawns, fish, etc. Only when "ande" (or "anda") is added does it refer to an egg curry. Essentially, no matter which recipe you look at, most of the ingredients are the same, with varying amounts. After looking through more recipes under that title, I realized that there was really not much new. The ingredients are the same and methods and amounts differ.
After making my version of this dish for dinner last evening, my husband and I both truly loved the flavors, and the Neer Dosa paired exceptionally well with the dish, though I felt my dosa weren't yet made with any proficiency. Sadly, there are quite a few steps to this recipe, though some of them can be made ahead. The spice mixture ("masala") can be made and stored. The sauce (curry) can also be made ahead. Assembling in a hurry is then a snap. Making it all in one go, I had 2 skillets and 3 different saucepans dirtied, along with the blender, before I finished.
Still, it is so very tasty, I would truly suggest trying it out. Some ingredients may not be available, unless you are really dedicated to Indian cuisine (I am). Ajwain or Carom seed is used in just a tiny pinch and can be optional. Curry leaves, while they are available fresh by mail (when they arrive, I put them into a zip-top freezer bag and straight into the freezer), aren't on everyone's list of staple items. I love the flavor of them and use them often, but they can be omitted. Tamarind isn't in everyone's pantry either, but can easily be substituted with a squeeze of lime juice, or simply omitted. Dried red chilies aren't on everyone's shelf, and are also a matter of taste. Some cannot tolerate the heat, and others can't get enough. I used two dried red chilies, breaking them open and discarding the seeds before using. If preferred, use dried red chili flakes to your own personal preference, or in a pinch, simply use a tiny bit of cayenne, to taste. Not everyone keeps a fresh coconut lying around, either, though I found that I can buy a whole, ripe coconut, open it and remove all the coconut "meat," and then grate it on a small-holed grater and freeze it, well wrapped. Easy to grab a little when needed.
Mangalorean Egg Curry or Ande Ambat
Based on 1 egg per serving: 6 servings. Based on 2 eggs per serving: 3 servings.
DRY MASALA MIX:
2 (or up to 8) dried red chilies, with or without seeds
1-inch soft cinnamon stick
1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon coriander seeds
1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds
1/2 teaspoon black peppercorns
1/8 teaspoon carom/ajwain seeds
CURRY or GRAVY:
2 - 3 tablespoons coconut oil
2 medium shallots, chopped
12 - 15 curry leaves
3 - 4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
1/2 large red bell pepper
1 - 2 tomatoes, chopped
1 teaspoon-sized piece of seedless tamarind
1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
1/2 cup fresh grated coconut
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
1/2 cup unsweetened coconut milk (or use water)
1 1/2 to 2 cups water
6 eggs, hard-boiled, peeled
1 - 2 medium potatoes, peeled, cubed
1 tablespoon coconut oil
1 small shallot, halved, sliced
8 to 10 curry leaves
MAKE THE DRY MASALA MIX: Heat a dry skillet over medium to medium high heat, then toast the spices, one spice at a time (different sizes will toast for different times), just until fragrant, removing each to a single plate to cool. Once cooled, grind the spices in a spice grinder and set aside, or cover tightly and store in a cool, dark place until needed.
MAKE THE CURRY: In a medium skillet, over medium heat, add in the coconut oil and then the shallots with the curry leaves and saute, stirring often, until the shallots soften and start turning a golden color. Add in the garlic and ginger and cook 3 minutes, then add in the red bell pepper and tomatoes with the turmeric powder and cook, stirring often, until the vegetables are soft and the tomatoes broken down. Stir in the grated coconut and cook one minute. Pour the ingredients of the skillet into a blender container, along with the cilantro, the spice Masala mixture, and with either the coconut milk or water (from "other ingredients") and blend smooth. The curry can be refrigerated, tightly covered, until later if needed.
When ready to make the dish, cook the cubed potatoes until easily pierced with a knife. Drain the water from the potatoes. Have the curry in a medium saucepan over medium heat and add in the potatoes and 1 1/2 cups of water, stirring well. Make shallow cuts in the hard-boiled eggs, then add to the curry. If the mixture is still thick, add more water as needed. Let the mixture simmer, covered, for 10 to 15 minutes to meld flavors.
TEMPERING: In a small skillet, heat the 1 tablespoon coconut oil and saute the sliced shallot with the curry leaves. When the curry is ready to serve, pour into a bowl, then pour the tempering ingredients from the skillet over top. Garnish with cilantro leaves.
NOTES: If desired, 3 eggs may be whisked together and stirred into the simmering curry sauce before adding the potatoes and tomatoes.
My passion is teaching people how to create a harmony of flavors with their cooking, and passing along my love and joy of food, both simple or exotic, plain or fancy. I continue my journey in ethnic and domestic cuisines, trying new things weekly. I would love to hear from you, to help me continue my journey to explore diverse culinary experiences and hopefully to start you on a journey of your own. Join me also at A Harmony of Flavors on Facebook, and Pinterest.