Burmese Egg Curry

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So Sir Paul McCartney is exhorting us to have Meat-Free Mondays and for once I'm impressed.

Don't get me wrong, I love the Beatles, but I've always thought Macca was a bit of a tool partly due to the McCartney/Lennon credits squabble and partly because a few years back, I went to see Theatre of the New Ear (amazing Coen Brothers/Charlie Kauffman play) and, just before it started, Paul and then wife Heather Mills marched in front of the audience and stopped just so he could do a thumbs-up "Ayyyyy!" in the style of Arthur Fonzarelli

Heather looked really embarrassed and I actually felt sorry for her. Then they traipsed up the aisles to sit eight rows behind us. Heh.

Anyway, I'm a rampant carnivore, but even I can see that it would be better for the planet's future to go meat-free where possible and everyone can do it at least one day a week.

Therefore I present to you my favourite vegetarian Burmese dish - Egg Curry aka kyet-u chet (literally "chicken egg cooked").

Yeah, I know it sounds wrong, but you'll be surprised how delicious it is.

Go on, do it for Paul, if not for me.

Burmese Egg Curry
(Kyet-u Chet)

Serves 4

  • 8 large eggs

  • 400g tin of chopped tomatoes

  • 3 medium onions

  • Small bunch of coriander (cilantro)

  • curry leaves (optional)

  • 1 tsp tamarind paste or inch cube of tamarind block or 1 tsp lemon juice

  • 1 tbsp sweet paprika

  • 1 tsp turmeric

  • 1 tsp chilli powder

  • 1 tsp fish sauce (optional)

  • 1 tbsp peanut oil or any other vegetable oil

  • Pinch of MSG or 1/2 vegetable stock cube

If using a tamarind block, soak the cube overnight in 100ml boiling water until it breaks down into a thick paste; remove the stones and the fibrous bits.

Chop the stems of the coriander off and mince them finely (reserve the leaves for later). Dice the onions finely.

Heat the oil in a saucepan, chuck in the diced onions and coriander stems, and add the tomatoes, tamarind paste, curry leaves, paprika, turmeric, chilli powder, fish sauce and MSG/stock cube.

Cook this mixture down on a medium heat for a couple of hours until it reduces. Use a hand blender or potato masher to get rid of any lumps and then keep the sauce simmering gently.

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Now hard-boil the eggs so the yolks remain creamy. My method is as follows:

  1. Place the eggs in an open saucepan and cover in cold water,

  2. Heat the pan on high until the eggs start to boil and bubble furiously,

  3. Immediately turn the heat down to medium and continue to simmer for another 4 minutes,

  4. Remove from heat and submerge in cold, running water to stop the eggs cooking .

Peel the eggs and slice each in half. Stir the egg halves gently through the simmering curry sauce till they're coated.

Sprinkle the egg curry with a handful of chopped coriander leaves and serve immediately with hot white rice and some crudités on the side such as cucumber slices or radishes.

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I'll leave you with this amazing egg-related Beatles titbit - legend has it that the original lyrics to "Yesterday" went as follows:

Scrambled Eggs,
Have an omelette with some Muenster cheese,
Put your dishes in the washbin please,
So I can clean the scrambled eggs.

Join me, do,
There's a lot of eggs for me and you,
I've got ham and cheese and bacon too,
So go get two and join me do.

Fried or sunny side,
Just aren't right,
The mix-bowl begs,
Quick, go get a pan, and we'll scramble up some eggs, eggs, eggs, eggs.

Scrambled eggs,
Good for breakfast, dinner time or brunch,
Don't buy six or twelve, buy a bunch,
And we'll have a lunch on scrambled eggs. 

(Paul McCartney)

All ingredients can be found in Asian/Oriental supermarkets and bigger Western stores.