I just got back home to Toronto, after spending a week with my family in Washington, DC. It is 6am and I am spooning coffee grinds into my moka to make a caffé latte. At this time, I know that my father is awake already and sitting in his solarium, his putty-coloured cashmere shawl covering his legs while he eats his morning porridge, adorned with a lazy trail of maple syrup and dried apricots. The BBC World Service is flashing on the television screen in the background and he is probably also checking texts and missed calls on his mobile phone. The leaves outside the solarium have turned yellow, like the colour of the imperial topaz gemstone I love so much. I’m not there today, so Baba has decided that he isn’t going to make the trek to the local coffee shop for his caffeine fix. They use Lavazza; we prefer Illy and adore Palombini, but we’re not in Rome anymore, so we’ll take Lavazza.
After finishing his porridge, Baba reaches into the woven basket for the Financial Times, takes scissors out from the lacquered box next to the Dervish figurine to his left, and snips out an article for me about falling asleep at dinner parties, by David Tang. Baba and I love David Tang’s column, because we think he is a cocky, witty bugger. David Tang writes, “But such apparent bad behaviour seems to be no worse than that of so many of my dining companions who do not desist from looking at their iPhones and mobiles etc. They are effectively ruder than me with my natural inclination to fall asleep because they are fully awake.”
My Dad and I, we love this sort of humour.
Whenever Baba sees me, he hands me a folder with “cuttings”. I know that I can easily read the articles off the internet, because I subscribe to the FT, but this is a father-daughter tradition which I want to carry on forever.
Before Baba steps out for his afternoon jog, he makes his request for dinner – an egg curry with white rice, “anday ka saalan aur saath uss ke sufaid chawal”. He never eats brown rice, but he always adds that qualifier of ‘white’ when he refers to rice. Egg curry is a simple pleasure, like the coffee at our local café.
This umami-rich, caramelised tomato base pairs perfectly with creamy, soft egg yolks. You can add a few dollops of thick yoghurt to bind it all together beautifully in your plate, sort of like nursery food. I like to have mine with sangak.
Till next time…when I am in DC to make this dish for my father.
Serves 4 as a side dish. To enjoy as a main dish, double up the ingredients, (except for the the oil).
*3 tbsp neutral oil of choice
*1 small or ½ a medium onion, minced
*1cm (approx ½ in) thick piece of ginger, cubed
*2 cloves garlic, minced
*½ tsp turmeric
*1 tsp cumin powder
*500ml (approx 16oz) can tomato sauce or crushed tomatoes
*salt to taste
*1 tsp red chili powder (or ½ tsp if you prefer it less spicy)
*250ml (1 cup) water
*water for boiling eggs
For the eggs
*Fill pot with water and place on high heat. When the water begins to boil rapidly, turn the heat to medium-high. You want to obtain a gentle boil
*Carefully, using a slotted spoon, lower eggs into the pot
*Once all eggs are in the pot, set your timer to 10 minutes. After ten minutes, remove pot from stove and fill with cold water under the faucet in the sink
*Allow eggs to rest in the water while you make the curry base
For the curry base
*Place a large pan (I use this one, which is 30cm / 12in) on the stove on medium-high heat and add oil
*Add onions and sauté till a golden brown, this will take 5-7 minutes
*Add ginger, garlic, turmeric and cumin powder and continue to sauté for 1 minute till fragrant
*Reduce heat to medium
*Add tomatoes, salt and chilli powder, water and stir continuously, till the tomato sauce reduces and thickens. This will take approximately 10 minutes
*Peel eggs and carefully slice each egg into half and place on top of the warm curry base.
*Garnish with your favourite fresh herb/s
Enjoy with rice, crusty bread, sangak, naan or chapati.