Wednesday, August 19, 2009

CREAMY INDIAN-STYLE EGGS AND CHICKPEAS WITH RICE PILAF

INDIAN SUMMER

WE'RE HAVING A HEAT WAVE, A TROPICAL HEAT WAVE


Heat washes over us as we step over the sill out onto the street, a strange, unfamiliar heat that bounces off the asphalt and stabs at our skin, a bright, glaring light that blinds. Heat heavy and stifling like a hand pressed over our mouths, our clothes push against our bodies slowing us down. A ramble along the river ignites rather than soothes as we search desperately for a hint of shade. We see the dogs splayed across the bows of the boats moored along the river’s edge, panting in the unforgiving heat, glaring jealously at each other. No gentle breeze rolls calmly off of the water, a lover’s stroll that is meant to be hand-in-hand only fuels grumblings and discontent. Too hot and sticky to touch, too oppressive to enjoy the time together.


“A real scorcher,” as the old men used to say, lined up in garden chairs down the sidewalk, pushing their hats further up on their heads and swiping at their foreheads with worn handkerchiefs. This is ice-cold lemonade weather, gulped down quickly before the ice cubes can melt and begin to warm. Ice cream drips down our arms spoiling any pleasure we may have had with that first cool, creamy lick. Lazy days spent sprawled in an armchair, fanning oneself, hoping, praying that it might rain.

There is nothing sultry about this heat, no drizzle of sweat suggestively trickling down a cleavage, torrid afternoons amid crumpled sheets, the slow whirring of the ceiling fan mesmerizing, a curl of hair flicking back and forth across her face. No movie-star he-men standing in dark, Old World bars in sun-baked, far-away places, sipping whiskeys and waiting for the mysterious woman, that glamorous femme fatale, to swish through the swinging doors, pausing as all eyes slide up and down her body. No smoldering looks as he leans over and lights her cigarette, she cool and collected, he tugging at his collar and loosening his tie. No casual remark about the heat, the storm brewing in the distance, no steamy innuendos, no whispers like electric currents passing back and forth, no sidelong glances beneath half-closed eyelids, the nervous clicking of coins against the zinc bar top.


No, summer hits us without the romance, its unrelenting, unforgiving heat closing in on all sides and draining every ounce of energy, sucking us dry. Our emotions simmer just below the surface until someone says the wrong thing and we explode, boiling point finally reached and we flare up. No matter how many sweltering Florida summers I have lived through, I will never be used to the heat. I cannot look smart and glamorous with perfect hair and make-up, I have no desire to dress in more than shorts and a tank, hair yanked unceremoniously back in a clip, bare feet sliding across the parquet floors.

Windows flung open, our apartment is fairly cool, no oppressive heat keeping us from the kitchen. Only laziness. Summer laissez faire, we barely have the energy to pull ourselves up and off the sofa and drag our bloated body to the fridge where we open the door and lean into the cool and wonder if we really have the desire to eat. Well, it may be hot enough outside to fry an egg on the sidewalk, but this girl always has the energy and the desire to eat! On the otherhand, going out to the market or the grocery store is another story all together. The only attraction is the possibility to stand in the chilled meat and cheese section, put our face into the ice cream case or lean against the chilled glass windows.


So what is the attraction to Indian food? I bought my first Indian cookbook, that fabulous Indian Cooking by Madhur Jaffrey when living in hot, hot Milan, Italy and started learning the ins and outs. When we lived in Milan, there were almost no “ethnic” (read: other than Italian) restaurants in the city other than Chinese and one Indian restaurant run by an expat. So when we craved Moroccan or Cajun, French or Jewish, it had to be homemade. So while I was at it, I added what must be one of my favorite cuisines: Indian.

And it is a hot weather country, swelteringly hot, and we crave this often spicy, very flavorful cuisine mostly when it is hot. Hot inside cools the outside, I guess. Well, influenced by my wonderful fellow food bloggers and friends Deeba of Passionate about Baking and Meeta of What’s for Lunch Honey? and their amazing Indian cooking, I craved. And I recently saw this gorgeous Egg Curry on Meeta’s blog and just had to grab my Madhur Jaffrey cookbook off the shelf and let it all take over. I didn’t have all of the ingredients for any one dish, so I borrowed, tweaked and improvised and ended up with an extremely delicious dish that was both quick and simple. Everyone loved it: JP raved and Simon not only ate it but said that it was good!



EGGS IN AN INDIAN-STYLE CREAM SAUCE
Served over Rice Pilaf

For 4 people:
1 – 2 eggs per person
3 Tbs vegetable oil
3 – 4 Tbs finely chopped onion
½ tsp ground ginger (1-inch cube freshly grated if you have)
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp garam masala
1 tsp ground cumin
1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
3/4 cup (200 ml) light cream (a bit more if you like it creamier)
1 Tbs lime or lemon juice (I used lime)
2/3 cup (160 ml) chicken stock
2 tsps tomato paste (a bit more to taste if you like)
Finely chopped coriander


Hard boil the eggs for no more than 12 minutes then immediately run under cold water to cool them down and stop the cooking. Peel and set aside.

Heat the vegetable oil in a large skillet. Add the chopped onions and cook, stirring, until they are browned around the edges, about 2 or 3 minutes.


Add the spices and the chickpeas and stir, continuing to cook for another minute.




Stir the tomato paste into the chicken stock until smooth. Add this to the pan along with the cream and the lime or lemon juice. Stir until everything is well blended and smooth and bring up to a simmer.



Slice the hardboiled eggs in half lengthwise and gently lay on the cream sauce in the pan then carefully push them down into the sauce, spooning some of the sauce on the eggs to cover. Sprinkle with a tablespoon or two of the chopped fresh coriander (depending on how much you like coriander) and allow to very gently simmer for about 5 minutes, stirring gently and moistening the eggs with the sauce. The sauce should thicken a bit.



Serve with the Rice Pilaf and extra chopped fresh coriander sprinkled on top.



RICE PILAF

4 Tbs (60 g) unsalted butter
2 cups Basmati or other long-grained white rice
¼ tsp ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp ground cardomom
½ cup slivered or very coarsely chopped blanched almonds
4 cups (1 liter) water
1 ½ tsps salt

Optional:
½ cup raisins
1 cup peas, fresh or frozen

Melt the butter in a large heavy-bottom skillet or pot. Add the rice and stir to coat all of the rice and cook for a minute or two until the rice starts to color.

Add the cinnamon and the cardamom and continue frying for 1 minute.

Add the almonds, salt and water, stir and bring to the boil. Lower the heat and allow to gently simmer for 20 minutes or until the rice is tender, stirring occasionally.

The rice should be tender and moist, but not mushy.

20 comments:

KennyT said...

I'm a sauce person, guess that's why I'm so into Indian food, ^_^

Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

That dish is for me! I love everything about it!

Although it is very hot and I have to force myself to cook or bake (lack of energy), the heat makes me hungry somehow (don't ask me why)...

Cheers,

Rosa

girlichef said...

This looks awesome! And the second egg curry I've seen over the last few days...I must try it next!

Elra said...

Oh I love Indian food, I can almost eat it everyday without getting tired of it. Your egg curry look so delicious.

MeetaK said...

wonderful job jamie! this is just perfect and i love chickpeas so i think i'll try it this way next time too!

La Table de Nana said...

You write beautifully! I hung on every word! I have friends from Toronto that I see in Fl..that adore Indian cooking.I am just getting into Moroccan..perhaps Indian will be next:)

Aparna said...

That looks delish, Jamie. Like your adding chick peas to the curry, never seen that before.

Never knew there was romance in the heat of the summer. I must see if I can imagine it up when this Indian summer really gets hot. I doubt if I can. :-D

Donna-FFW said...

An egg curry sounds wonderful, very unique to me. I love the chickpeas here. Your photo is absolutely scrumptious! GREAT post!

Deeba @Passionate About Baking said...

LOL Jamie...hot,Indian summer and a sweaty romance. You make summer sound COOL! I ♥ your writing style & it makes me laugh out LOUD!! Never heard of an egg curry with chick peas; but then never heard of someone as crazily fun as you either!! Tanti baci bella...xoxo

♥Rosie♥ said...

That egg curry sounds amazing! It's been hot here in the U.K. but nothing like your heat, but to day we have rain now and cooled things off.

♥♥♥Ria♥♥♥ said...

Ah! Love the way you write Jamie!! :) And the addition of chick peas in an egg curry is very new to me :)

Half Baked said...

You've inspired me to cook in spite of the sweltering heat! This dish look delicious and simple (my two favorite things!)

lisaiscooking said...

There is something so enjoyable about spicy food in hot weather. This sounds delicious!

buffalodick said...

Indian cuisine is probably my most neglected area of cooking... I must revisit.. 900 million people can't be wrong! :)

Reeni♥ said...

I've never seen an egg curry before! I love it with delicious chickpeas - so creative. Like you I never lose the desire to eat. Heat or not.

Mary said...

I'm a big fan of egg curries, but I've never made one with chickpeas. You've made me curious. I'll have to give this a try. Stay cool.

Sippity Sup said...

The artwork you manage to dig up always amazes me! My mom used to do curry in eggs her version was not very "Indian" but I know it's a great combination. GREG

Faith said...

It's been unbearably hot here too...I lived in Florida for 3 years so I can really feel your pain. Indian food is a real favorite of mine as well! This dish looks really beautiful and sounds delicious!

Chef E said...

I wish I was the woman on the beach right now, waves coming up over me, and the world seems so far away...oh sorry I came over because the dish looks fantastic...love curry!

asiangrrl said...

Jamie, this dish is the quintessential simple perfection dish. It looks absolutely luscious.

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