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Egg Lentils

Egg Lentils
Egg Lentils and Roti
I have no idea whether egg lentils is a traditional dish or not. I can't find it on the web nor in any of my books but I'm sure I read about it somewhere in the dim and distant past - or maybe I just made it up. (So please forgive me if I'm transgressing any culinary or ethical rules here.)

Eggs do feature quite a bit in Indian food and, depending on how strict a vegetarian you are, it can be considered a vegetarian dish.

You can cook egg lentils as a main dish, a side dish or, what I often use it for is a hearty supper dish. Although it is quite simple in terms of spices, it's really nutritious and very yummy.

Basic Ingredients

4 Hard boiled eggs
1½ cups masoor daal
1 medium potato
1 small onion
1 dessert spoon tomato purée
1 clove garlic
1" (2.5cm) piece root ginger
Coconut milk
A small handful of coriander leaves
Oil for frying

1 teaspoon coriander seeds
teaspoon black cumin seeds
teaspoon fenugreek seeds
Seeds from 2 cardamom pods

Notes on Ingredients

Daal. I have used other daals for egg lentils and chana daal is good (very good for diabetics) I seem to go back to masoor daal. The qualities here will feed 2 people as a main dish with rice or bread and would make a supper dish for possibly four.

Potato. This is optional and I can never quite identify what it adds, but it does add something - some body and texture I think.

Chilli. In this quantity I use 1 medium strength chilli or (by preference) ½ a scotch bonnet. You can use more if you're a serious chilli head or less if you want milder. Interestingly, although my family is not averse to a good hot dish. they have mentioned that using less chillies in this dish brings out all the other flavours.

Coconut milk. You can buy this in tins or make it yourself using desiccated coconut and boiling water. I recently found (in a supermarket) a box of coconut cream sachets - had never seen them before. They just contain creamed coconut and one of these is ideal for this dish.

Oil. I usually use mustard oil for this but ghee and peanut oil are very good. Ordinary vegetable oil is OK.

Black Cumin. This is a relative of normal cumin also called shahi or kali cumin and has a slightly earthier taste than its cousin. You can use normal cumin instead.

Egg Lentils
Egg Lentils ready to serve

Basic Method

Soak the lentils for at least 30 minutes.
Hard boil the eggs and leave to cool
Heat a dry frying pan and roast the coriander, cumin and fenugreek seeds for a minute or so
Grind all these spices and the cardamom seeds into a fine powder
Peel and finely chop the onion.
Peel and mash the garlic
Peel and finely dice the ginger.
Peel the potato and cut into ½ inch (1cm) cubes
Remove the shells from the eggs and quarter them.
Boil water in a large saucepan.
Put in the lentils and potatoes and boil for 10 to 15 minutes until everything is nice and soft.

Meanwhile, heat the oil in a heavy bottomed pan.
Throw in the onions, garlic, ginger and chilli.
Fry for a couple of minutes an then throw in the ground spices.
Stir the spices in and then add the tomato puree.
Add the thick coconut milk
Reduce the heat and gently fry for about 10 minutes.
Add the eggs
Strain the lentils and add those and gently mix the whole lot together
Garnish with coriander leaves.

Notes on Method

Soaking the lentils. Should be soaked for at least hour, some recipes suggest that masoor daal should be soaked for 2 hours. I can't find any reference to a good reason for this, and some recipes suggest you can just wash the lentils. The water you soak them in does go a bit cloudy so something must be happening. I soak them for about 30-45 minutes and change the water every 10-15 minutes then rinse through with cold water. You may also want to remove any bits with the hull still on, though I would suggest it is unlikely to kill you if you don't.

Coconut milk. If you are using the sachets I mentioned you will also need to add a bit of water with the coconut.

You need to keep an eye on the lentils whilst you are cooking the other stuff. As soon as the lentils are done strain them and set aside if the other pan is not quite ready.

Mixing the whole lot together needs to be done gently so as not to mangle the eggs too badly.

I usually eat egg lentils with a simple roti or naan, but they are also good with plain boiled rice and some chutney.


Other things I have tried in this basic recipe are:

Tinned tomatoes rather than tomato puree - or I guess even fresh plum tomatoes would be good. This gives a little more liquid.

Salt. It may have been just me on a particular day, but when I tasted it, it seemed like it needed salt. I don't know why this is - I don't generally use very much salt either on food or even in cooking, but there are certain foods which do seem to need some and eggs and potatoes are in there - oh well. The result was well received in any case.

Garam Masala. You can stir some in at the end of cooking for extra flavour and aroma

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