Kerala is one of those places I dream of visiting. An Ayurvedic retreat specialising in vegetarian food near the tea & cardamom plantations would be perfect. A place to rejuvenate mind, body and soul, somewhere like this…
Until that time comes I am happy to cook my own versions of Keralan dishes from home and use my walking as a means of rejuvenation. Today we walked to the top of a hill I had been intrigued by for a while. It has some trees and what looks like a retreat or chapel at the top and I wanted to walk up there..
We had to walk up hill through the pine forest to get to the fire break, which is what looks like the path from down below.
When we got out of the forest about half way up we could see Alhaurin(the town where we live) and the snow on the mountains in the distance.Nearer the top we could see over the other side down to the coast and the sea. This is the Costa del Sol seen from the other side. The side that most tourists never see….
At the top was a deserted building that looks like it is used for observation or maybe a forest warden’s office.
Whatever its use is, it is now our own private hilltop retreat! It’s free and the views are priceless…
It’s not Kerala but we can walk there in an hour and stay as long as we like….
I think this will be the first of many times that we will find ourselves at this sheltered hilltop retreat, but next time we will take a picnic, we were starving by the time we had walked home. Definitely in the mood for a Keralan curry…
Keralan Egg & Aubergine Curry Recipe
serves 2 or 3 vegetarian
- 1 large aubergine cut into quarters, lengthways and chopped into 2 cm chunks
- 2 or 3 large eggs (1 egg per person)
- 2 or 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tbsp minced ginger
- 1 red onion chopped
- 1 big tomato chopped
- 1 green chilli, chopped
- oil for frying (coconut oil would be good)
- 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
- 2 tsp punch pooran*
- 1 tsp ground coriander
- 2 cardamom pods (crush and use the seeds)
- 250ml -500ml veg stock
- 1/2 tsp turmeric
- 2 tsp tamarind paste
- 1 tbsp vinegar (I used balsamic)
- 2 tsp brown sugar (or jaggery)
- a handful of fresh coriander, chopped
- salt & black pepper
*Punch pooran is a spice mix made with mustard seeds, cumin seeds, onion seeds. fennel seeds & fenugreek seeds. You can get it from Indian supermarkets or from East End Foods.
Heat some oil in a pan over a medium heat and add the onion & spices. Cook for a few minutes until the onion softens then add the chilli, ginger & garlic. Mix everything together adding a little veg stock to stop it drying out. Add the aubergine chunks, stir to coat them in the spice paste and cook for about 5 minutes until the aubergines begin to soften & brown slightly. Season well with salt & black pepper. Add the chopped tomato, vinegar, tamarind & sugar, stir and add about 250 ml of the veg stock. Cook gently for about 15 – 20 minutes until the aubergines are really tender and the sauce has reduced. You can add more veg stock if it seems too dry. Stir in fresh coriander and check seasoning.
Meanwhile put a small pan of water on to boil. When the water is boiling turn it down slightly and cook the eggs in the boiling water for 7 minutes. After 7 minutes drain the water out of the pan and run the eggs under cold water until cool enough to handle. Peel the eggs and cut in half lengthwys.
Serve the aubergine curry topped with the soft boiled eggs and some extra chopped coriander.
I served this curry with some onion seed flatbreads see recipe here and a dollop of Greek yoghurt mixed with fresh mint & lemon juice. Some coconut and cardamom infused rice would be lovely too.
The combination of the sweet, spicy aubergines with the texture of the perfectly cooked soft-boiled egg is so lovely, you wonder why you have never tried it before. It may sound strange but it is really delicious.. Enjoy!!