North Indian Baked Eggs are easy, fast and comforting; it is the kind of dish you turn to when you cannot think of what to make for dinner, and then end up thrilled with your meal! I received a copy of Seven Spoons from Blogging for Books in exchange for an honest review. Affiliate links have been used to link to items I am discussing.
One of the big surprises–for me–in Italy was how mountainous it was. For whatever reason I just had no idea. Calabria especially was covered in mountains, and Rende, our home base, was down in a valley, so any time we left, we drove in mountains. One day, the girls and I decided to go try to find a castle in a nearby town (I no longer remember which castle or town). We never did find the castle, but it was sunny and high 70s (Farenheit) when we left Rende, with a heat index in the high 80s. This was the view driving back down from the town, which of course was somewhere up high:
So the weather was clearly turning. The girls and I decided to see if we could drive up into Sila Grande, one of the mountains in the Calabrian National Park. When we pulled over to get gas, this was the sight behind us on the mountain we had been driving around (pardon the photo quality):
Perhaps because I am not very bright, we decided to drive up Sila Grande anyway! On the way up we drove through hail–complete with piles of ice on the sides of the road!–and rain. And at the top, it was a whopping 49 F–and with wind chill it was about 40 F! So much for exploring the park! The girls got out of the car long enough for me to take the obligatory “we were there” picture (while they clutched each other, shivering) and then we drove back down!
Despite the chill, we had a wonderful time. The scenery was gorgeous, and it was just one more fun memory made possible by renting the car. We decided that even if we did not see any, we were certain that there were Apennine wolves on the mountain with us. We paused on the way down for this shot:
I wish I had some graceful, witty, logical segue into North Indian Baked Eggs but nothing is occurring to me. The recipe is from Seven Spoons: My Favorite Recipes for Any and Every Day, by Tara O’Bradley, who writes the fabulous Seven Spoons blog. At Blogging for Books, you are given a choice of books to review (and I frankly never accept books that I do not think we are going to like–I do not have the shelf space and I cook for other people, i.e., we need to actually eat what I cook–if you are curious about how I review cookbooks, check out my review of Easy Indian Cooking), and the minute I saw Seven Spoons I knew I wanted it because I love her blog. Tara, Canadian, is of Indian descent, and this informs her recipes–and unsurprisingly I love them. But do not think that this is a book of curries, because it is not. Her staples include ghee, yes, but they also include clotted cream, ricotta, mayonnaise and, most intriguingly, Citrus Miso Tahini Dressing (that one is definitely bookmarked!). In her breads and breakfasts, I have bookmarked Roasted Peaches with Glazed Sesame Oats and Blackberry Buttermilk Whole Grain Scones. And the list goes on. Everything looks so good.
Beyond the recipes themselves, the writing and photography are also stellar. Not all recipes have photographs, but at least half do I would venture, and they are lovely–kind of homey and rustic and elegant at the same time. I love the trend of using matte paper instead of shiny paper for cookbooks right now. O’Brady notes that all pictures were taken in her kitchen throughout the year, so you will see a pattern of similar props being used with different types of light as the seasons pass. I love that. I always know a cookbook is going to be good when I am glued to the entire introduction–and that happened here.
I knew as soon as I saw this baked eggs recipe that I would be making it. It was absolutely perfect for our first few days home from Italy, when all I had managed to buy were a few dozen eggs, yogurt, cilantro and onions (we still had garlic and I had John pick up some local greenhouse tomatoes from the farmers’ market across the way). And I didn’t feel like thinking or creating any grand meals. It was homey and comforting, and the kinds of flavors we were all dying for. Except John and the eggs. He is not an egg fan. Much to the distress of the rest of us. We try not to inflict them on him too often! He gets the more cooked-through yolks while the rest of us all want gloriously oozing yolks.
- 2 T ghee
- 3 large onions, chopped
- 4-6 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 bunch bunch of cilantro, tender stems finely chopped and separated and leaves coarsely chopped
- 1/2 t ground turmeric
- 1/4 t paprika (or cayenne if you can take the heat)
- 1 t ground cumin
- 1 1/2 t ground coriander
- 2 t garam masala, plus some to sprinkle
- 4 lbs tomatoes, either fresh in summer or frozen off-season, chopped
- 2 bay leaves
- 1/3 cup Greek yogurt, whole fat or 2%
- 4-8 eggs, depending on appetites (I always ask how many each person wants)
- salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Cooked Basmati rice for serving, optional
- lime or lemon wedges
- chopped nuts of choice (almonds or cashews would be nice I think)
- chopped fresh dill
- baby greens (I would love to try arugula)
- Using a large, heavy, oven-proof skillet (I think enameled cast iron is perfect here), heat the ghee over medium heat. When it is melted and shimmering, add the onions with a pinch of salt.
- While they cook, preheat the oven to 375 F.
- Cook the onions, stirring occasionally, until they are caramelizing, about 10-15 minutes. You can add a splash of water if they start to scorch or stick. Add the garlic and cook for another 1-2 minutes, stirring.
- Add the finely chopped tender cilantro stems with another pinch of salt. Cook, stirring, for another 2 minutes.
- Add the turmeric and paprika and cook, stirring, for 30 seconds. Then add the cumin, coriander and garam masala and stir, cooking, for another 30 seconds.
- Add the tomatoes with all of their juices, as well as a pinch of salt and the bay leaves. Raise the heat to bring to a boil, and when it does boil, reduce the heat to maintain a simmer. Simmer for 20 minutes. Stir occasionally, being certain to scrape at the bottom of the pan.
- The tomatoes will reduce and thicken, and become more of a sauce. The oil will rise to the top of the sauce, kind of splitting from the sauce (it might look broken, but that is what you want).
- Dollop the yogurt into the sauce in several spoonfuls. Then lightly marble the yogurt into the tomatoes (this is O'Brady's technique and I thought it was brilliant).
- Use the wooden end of a spoon to create "holes" and crack each egg into a hole. Sprinkle with a little salt and black pepper, to taste.
- Bake in the oven to your preferred doneness; O'Brady recommends 12 minutes for oozing yolks but set whites.
- Sprinkle very lightly (the barest pinch) with garam masala when it comes out of the oven, and a handful of the chopped cilantro leaves. We enjoyed it with Basmati rice; if I had had any of them on hand, I am sure the garnishes listed above would also be delicious.
And for the collage fans for Pinterest: