I’m not sure if it is global warming or the effects of an almost full moon but here, in Ottawa, where I am currently based, a 40 year old temperature high was broken (we experienced a temperature fluctuation of 20C over 15 hours!). On days like these when downed winter coats are shed and runners slip into shorts spring fever electrifies the air. Similarly today, all over India a youthful vitality will energize the streets marking the arrival of Spring and the celebration of Holi. This festival of colours, perhaps the most popular and secular throughout India, is celebrated on the full moon in between February and March and symbolizes the beginning of a new year, a good harvest and of fertile fields.
Today all over India people, intoxicated with a child’s playfulness or perhaps by a bhang (cannabis) lassi, will spread joy by throwing powdered colours at one another in wild merriment.
Perhaps to coincide with this jubilant festival bloggers Prerna of Indian Simmer; Kathy from The Colours of Indian Cooking; and Barbara of Creative Culinary initiated a month long celebration of Indian food called #indianfoodpalooza on twitter.
My first contribution to #indianfoodpalooza highlights the traditional colours, red and green, of Holi. The deep red of sauce of the egg curry symbolizes desire while the green from the sautéed kale represents youth and vigour. Together these dishes can be prepared for any meal of the day, are great for a change up to the usual weekend brunch, and can be accompanied by some chapattis or basmati rice.
Egg Curry (Serves 4)
1 small onion, diced
1 teaspoon (2 garlic cloves), finely chopped
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp ground cumin
½ tsp ground turmeric
½ tsp ground cayenne powder
½ tsp ground garam masala
1 (16 oz) canned tomatoes, drained (or 1 cup blanched, peeled and chopped fresh tomatoes)
Salt and pepper
2 Tbsp canola oil
½ tsp ground fenugreek leaves (optional)
¼ cup coriander leaves, roughly chopped for garnish
Place the eggs in a medium sized saucepan and cover them with water. Bring the water to boil. When the water reaches a boil turn the heat down to a gentle simmer and cook the eggs for 9 minutes. Place the cooked eggs in a large bowl of iced water to stop the cooking. Let cool, drain and peel the eggs. Cut the eggs in half and set aside.
Place the roughly chopped tomatoes into a blender and puree.
Heat the oil in a medium sized saucepan over medium high heat. Add the onion and fry, stirring, for 8-10 minutes or until the onions are golden brown. Reduce the heat to medium and add the ground spices and cook, stirring, for two minutes. If it seems like the spiced onion mixture is too dry add a couple tablespoons of water. Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds to a minute. Pour in the pureed tomatoes and season with salt and pepper. Cook for a couple of minutes then add a half cup of water. Let the curry sauce simmer for 10 minutes. The finished sauce should be slightly thinner than a ‘basic tomato basil pasta sauce’. Add a few tablespoons of water if it is too thick. Add the ground fenugreek leaves, if using. Adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper.
Carefully slip the egg halves into the sauce to warm through before serving. Garnish with chopped coriander.
Sauteed Spiced Kale (Serves two adults and two kids; double recipe if serving four adult)
1 bunch of kale, washed, stems removed and roughly chopped
1 small onion, thinly sliced
1 tsp garlic, finely chopped
1 tsp ginger, finely chopped
½ tsp ground cumin
¼ tsp ground turmeric
¼ tsp ground cayenne
1 ½ Tbsp canola oil
Salt and pepper
½ to ¾ cup of water
Juice of ½ a lemon
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the kale and cook for 8-10 minutes or until soft. Drain and submerge in a large bowl of iced water. When cold enough to handle drain the kale and squeeze out most of the water. Finely chop the squeezed kale.
Heat the oil in a medium sized frying pan over medium high heat. Add onion and cook, stirring, for about five minutes or until golden brown. Reduce the heat to medium, add garlic and ginger and cook, stirring, for a minute or two. Spoon in the spices, a couple tablespoons of water and cook for two more minutes. Toss kale, a ¼ cup of water into the pan, season with salt and pepper, and sauté for 3-4 minutes. Add the lemon juice to heighten the flavours and adjust seasoning accordingly.
- When I am making this dish, but not served with the egg curry, I often add a diced plum tomato at the same time as I add the kale.
- Other greens such as swiss chard, beet greens or spinach can be used but the blanching times at the beginning of the recipe will be significantly reduced (boil the above green for only a couple minutes, at most).