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Golden Egg Curry

by . Featured in AT MY TABLE
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Introduction

This magnificent addition to my eating life comes courtesy of Yasmin Othman (who has brought much deliciousness my way over the years) and I glow with gratitude every time I eat it. This – called masak lemak telur in Malaysian – is very far removed from the egg curries I remember from my early youth, and would much prefer to forget. What we have here are eggs poached in a rich, aromatic, turmeric-tinted, tamarind-sharp, coconutty sauce or soup.

This has definite heat, but not eye-wateringly so. If you’d like it a bit milder, do not pierce the three whole finger chillies. And if you’d like it a lot milder, then you could de-seed the finger chilli that goes in the paste, and dispense with the whole ones in the soup. But even if, like me, you love fiery food, I don’t advise eating the whole chillies. I won’t stop you, but you have been warned.

For US cup measures, use the toggle at the top of the ingredients list.

This magnificent addition to my eating life comes courtesy of Yasmin Othman (who has brought much deliciousness my way over the years) and I glow with gratitude every time I eat it. This – called masak lemak telur in Malaysian – is very far removed from the egg curries I remember from my early youth, and would much prefer to forget. What we have here are eggs poached in a rich, aromatic, turmeric-tinted, tamarind-sharp, coconutty sauce or soup.

This has definite heat, but not eye-wateringly so. If you’d like it a bit milder, do not pierce the three whole finger chillies. And if you’d like it a lot milder, then you could de-seed the finger chilli that goes in the paste, and dispense with the whole ones in the soup. But even if, like me, you love fiery food, I don’t advise eating the whole chillies. I won’t stop you, but you have been warned.

For US cup measures, use the toggle at the top of the ingredients list.

Image of Nigella's Golden Egg Curry
Photo by Jonathan Lovekin

Ingredients

Serves: 2

Metric Cups
  • 2 fresh green chillies (de-seeded and roughly chopped)
  • 4 green finger chillies (1 roughly chopped and 3 left whole)
  • 150 grams (approx. 5 small round) shallots (peeled and roughly chopped)
  • 2 fat cloves garlic (peeled and roughly chopped)
  • 25 grams fresh ginger (peeled and roughly chopped)
  • 15 grams fresh turmeric (peeled and roughly chopped) or 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 2 x 15ml tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 stalk lemongrass (trimmed and bruised)
  • 1 x 400ml tin coconut milk
  • 100 millilitres water from a freshly boiled kettle
  • 2 teaspoons sea salt flakes
  • 2 teaspoons tamarind paste
  • 4 large eggs (at room temperature)
  • 2 fresh green chiles (de-seeded and roughly chopped)
  • 4 green finger chillies (1 roughly chopped and 3 left whole)
  • 5 ounces (approx. 5 small round) shallots (peeled and roughly chopped)
  • 2 fat cloves garlic (peeled and roughly chopped)
  • 1½ inches fresh gingerroot (peeled and roughly chopped)
  • 3 inches fresh turmeric (peeled and roughly chopped) or 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 stalk lemongrass (trimmed and bruised)
  • 1 x 14oz can coconut milk
  • 7 tablespoons water from a freshly boiled kettle
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons tamarind paste
  • 4 large eggs (at room temperature)

Method

  1. With a stick blender, blitz the 2 green chillies and 1 roughly chopped green finger chilli, shallots, garlic, ginger and turmeric to a paste.
  2. Heat the oil in a heavy-based wok or a pan of similarly wide diameter that comes with a lid, add the paste and the lemongrass and fry gently, stirring frequently, for 5 minutes, by which time the paste will be cooked and softened. Either don’t use a wooden spoon here, or use one you don’t mind being stained by the turmeric.
  3. Add the coconut milk, water, sea salt and tamarind. Make a couple of little incisions in each of the 3 whole finger chillies with the point of a small sharp knife and drop them in, too. Turn the heat up to bring to a near boil, then reduce the heat again and simmer gently for about 7 minutes, stirring frequently, until the sauce has cooked and reduced to a thick golden soup.
  4. Crack the eggs into the sauce (if you’re cautious, you could crack each of them into a cup first), cover with a lid and leave to simmer very gently for about 4 minutes, or until the whites are set but the yolks still runny, or cook for longer if you want well-cooked yolks. You’ll have to lift the lid to monitor how the eggs are cooking.
  5. Divide between two bowls, trying to spoon out most of the sauce from the pan first. Serve with rice, dippable flatbreads or both.
  1. With a stick blender, blitz the 2 green chillies and 1 roughly chopped green finger chilli, shallots, garlic, ginger and turmeric to a paste.
  2. Heat the oil in a heavy-based wok or a pan of similarly wide diameter that comes with a lid, add the paste and the lemongrass and fry gently, stirring frequently, for 5 minutes, by which time the paste will be cooked and softened. Either don’t use a wooden spoon here, or use one you don’t mind being stained by the turmeric.
  3. Add the coconut milk, water, sea salt and tamarind. Make a couple of little incisions in each of the 3 whole finger chillies with the point of a small sharp knife and drop them in, too. Turn the heat up to bring to a near boil, then reduce the heat again and simmer gently for about 7 minutes, stirring frequently, until the sauce has cooked and reduced to a thick golden soup.
  4. Crack the eggs into the sauce (if you’re cautious, you could crack each of them into a cup first), cover with a lid and leave to simmer very gently for about 4 minutes, or until the whites are set but the yolks still runny, or cook for longer if you want well-cooked yolks. You’ll have to lift the lid to monitor how the eggs are cooking.
  5. Divide between two bowls, trying to spoon out most of the sauce from the pan first. Serve with rice, dippable flatbreads or both.

Additional Information

MAKE AHEAD/STORE NOTE:
Sauce can be made up to 3 days ahead. Cool as quickly as possible and refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 3 days. Reheat gently in a wok, stirring occasionally, until just boiling, then reduce the heat and continue with the recipe.

MAKE AHEAD/STORE NOTE:
Sauce can be made up to 3 days ahead. Cool as quickly as possible and refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 3 days. Reheat gently in a wok, stirring occasionally, until just boiling, then reduce the heat and continue with the recipe.

Tell us what you think

What 3 Others have said

  • I just love this sauce, creamy and tangy; I make up twice the quantity and then use it as needed to embellish everything from wok fried chicken pieces to vegetables, and freeze the excess for another day. Today's batch: I grow my own ginger and it's season's end so used fresh ground ginger, also cannot find fresh tamarind but the paste works just as well.

    Posted by BTucker on 13th April 2021
  • I can never leave a recipe alone! I love to play! If I don't have an ingredient but feel like eating the dish I just wing something else. I didn't have tamarind or fresh ginger on hand so I used powdered ginger, a splosh of Ketsup Mani, a spoon of hoisin, a flat tsp of brown sugar and a goodly splash of fresh lemon juice. I also love chicken stock powder, so I used that instead of salt. Nigella you always inspire my inner Kitchen Goddess. Thanks!

    Posted by Soozie3202 on 9th November 2020
  • I’ve made this a few times now, the first time being a Thanksgiving day late breakfast. A guest called it “exotic”. Even though the ingredient list is long, it still comes together very easily and makes a big impact. Leftover sauce freezes well, making repeats of this fun addition to my repertoire almost effortless.

    Posted by Rossbeigh on 11th May 2020
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