Dimer Dalna

Mallika Basu - Dimer Dalna

Cooking the special coconut sweets for Bengali New Year virtually sucked the life out me. Life is hard enough without having to stir milk for 40 minutes with a result that worsens hay fever. What I needed to restore my faith in quick Indian cooking was a simple Indian recipe that hit the spot and took no time to make. Genius! I decided on Bengali egg curry or dimer dalna, a sublime tomato curry with crinkly skinned hard boiled eggs nestled in it. Our cook made this at home with plain rotis as a sure fire way to make us whiny kids eat eggs. The best part of it is the crinkly, shallow fried skin of the hard boiled eggs. As you know, I'm not a big fan of pre-frying before further cooking, but with the eggs in this curry, it really makes a difference.

Method:

Cook the eggs for 15 minutes until hard boiled. Puree the onion, garlic and ginger together with a tablespoon or two of warm water in a small food processor or blender. If you don’t have this, you can chop the lot finely.

When the eggs are done, shell them, make two diagonal slits in them and rub them with half of the turmeric and chilli powders and some salt.

Now make the dalna or gravy.

Heat three tablespoons of oil and when hot, add the whole spices and the sugar. When they start spluttering, add the pureed onion, garlic and ginger mixture with a pinch of salt.

Fry this mixture on a high heat until it starts changing colour from white to golden brown. You may need to add warm water a tablespoon at a time to prevent the mixture from sticking to the bottom of the pan. When the onions lose their raw smell and go pale brown, add the remaining turmeric and chilli powder, the tomatoes chopped in pieces and keep frying for five minutes.

Now the pungent smell of the masalas will go, so add the quartered potatoes, half a cup of hot water, cover and simmer to cook the potatoes.

In the meantime, heat one tablespoon of oil and when hot shallow fry the eggs until pale brown and crinkly on either side.

When the potatoes are cooked, mix in the eggs, the garam masala and salt to taste. Serve Dimer Dalna hot with parathas or freshly cooked rice.

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