Making the curry myself, I tentatively added quarter spoonfuls of spices, fearing that I would easily overwhelm the masala and render it inedible. It always turned out alright, though it would never taste the same as my dad’s. But for a few moments, while tearing through pieces of egg over undercooked rice, I didn’t feel so far away from home. And that just made me want to cook more.
* * *
A few weeks ago, several months after my husband and I moved to Bengaluru from New York, I was going to make my dad’s egg curry for dinner when my mum called and asked if we’d like to come over to their place to eat. I told her I had already boiled four eggs for my curry. “Tell your dad to do it,” she said. So, we packed the eggs in an old takeout box and headed off. He wasn’t home yet, so I chopped onions in anticipation.
Once he got there, within 20 minutes we had a thick gravy simmering around eight yolk-down egg halves. He asked me to taste the masala to see if the seasoning was right. The chili hit my tongue almost immediately, and even though I was fully prepared for it, I needed a second to recover. It would mellow as it cooked with the egg, my dad said, but he asked if I wanted it milder. "No, let it stay that way," I replied. We sat down to eat it, and as promised, the sharpness had turned into a delicious meld of spice and heat and tomato.
This egg curry is a dish that’s come to mean family to me. You can’t always carry people, but a packet of chili powder fits in any bag. It took me 20 years to realize that it will always bring the taste of home to my plate, wherever I am in the world. And it’s even better when my dad makes it.
Dad's South Indian Egg Curry
5 tablespoons canola or vegetable oil
2 small onions
6 to 7 cloves garlic, chopped
1 tomato, chopped into small pieces
4 medium hard-boiled eggs
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon cumin powder
1/2 teaspoon garam masala
1 tablespoon chili powder
2 tablespoons coriander powder
1 tablespoon whole black pepper, crushed (not powdered)
10 to 12 curry leaves
1/2 to 1 cups water
1/4 cup coconut milk or cream (optional)
Cilantro, for garnish
Salt, to taste
Ice or bread, for serving
Click here to read the full recipe.