Chettinad is a beautiful place nestled in the Sivaganga District of Tamil Nadu!Its reminiscent of the Chettiars or the wealthy landowners and money lenders who lived there 2 – 3 centuries back.They were so rich that they built palatial bungalows and mini palaces which are preserved as museums and some have the descendants of the bygone era who keep up the traditions through frequent media posts,books and periodicals!
The Chettinad cuisine has now become world famous with people vying to taste the food and swearing that they have not eaten anything so flavourful and typically South Indian flavoured!The cuisine is noted for 2 basic South Indian ingredients – Coconut and Curry Leaves – both lending their flavours in the most amazing way possible!This recipe is versatile in the sense that you can add any ingredient of your choice to it.I have added hard boiled and lightly fried eggs but Chicken,Mutton (goat meat),Duck,Fish,Beef and Pork can be added to give uber delicious results.The Chettiars used to use Venison which was treated as a Royal recipe!Recently for vegetarians they have started adding juicy cubes of paneer and crispy vegetables which are really delicious!Make the curry in advance and freeze it.It freezes very well and the flavour is enhanced!Use it within 15 – 20 days.
NOTE – Use whole masala as much as possible for the Chettinad Masala as using powdered spices will not give you as great a taste!
Preparation Time : 1 hour
Makes : 5 – 6 servings
4 medium sized Onions
4 – 5 Green Chillies – minced
4 – 5 Tomatoes – pureed
1 tsp Cumin seeds (jeera)
1 tsp Mustard Seeds(Rai)
1 tbsp Ginger Garlic Paste
5 – 6 curry leaves
2 tsp salt plus for frying the eggs
1 tsp Garam Masala
2 tsp Vinegar
2 tbsp Coriander Leaves (dhaniya patta) to garnish
3 tbsp Oil
For the Chettinad Special Masala :
5 tbsp fresh/desiccated grated Coconut
2 tbsp Oil
1 tsp Cumin seeds (jeera)
2 tbsp whole Coriander Seeds (dhania)
8 – 10 whole peppercorns
2 tbsp red chilli powder (use less if you want a less spicy gravy)
Prepare the Chettinad Masala :
Heat Oil in a pan and add cumin seeds.When they crackle,reduce heat and add the coconut.Saute for 2 – 3 minutes and add the whole peppercorns,whole coriander seeds,turmeric and red chilli powders till the Coconut is well roasted and a lovely aroma emanates!Take out on a plate to cool.
After the coconut mixture reaches room temperature,add 2 – 3 tbsp water and blend into a fine paste.
Fry the eggs :
Hard boil the eggs and remove the shell.Heat 1 tbsp Oil and put the eggs into the pan on medium heat.Sprinkle a pinch of salt and red chilli powder over the eggs to season them.Fry till the surface takes on a crinkly appearance.Remove them to a separate plate to cool.
Prepare the gravy :
Heat 2 tbsp oil on medium heat in the same pan the eggs were fried and add mustard seeds.When they pop add the cumin seeds and allow them to brown.Then add the curry leaves and minced green chillies.Stir well and add the Ginger Garlic paste.Fry well till the rawness disappears and the paste is fried.Now add chopped Onions and fry till translucent.Add the Tomato puree and cook on medium heat for 10 – 12 minutes till the paste is fried and oil floats on top.Now add the prepared Chettinad Masala and mix very well for everything to amalgamate.
Cook for 5 – 7 minutes and add red chilli powder(if using),salt and garam masala.Mix well and add the Vinegar.
The secret ingredient of any Chettinad Curry is Vinegar which gives the slightly sour but lip smacking taste!
Halve 2 eggs and keep the remaining 2 whole.Mix the whole eggs into the gravy and spoon some gravy over them so as to coat them well.Take off heat.
Ladle some gravy in a bowl and place the whole eggs in it.Arrange the halved eggs attractively over the gravy in the bowl and garnish with Coriander Leaves.
Let the bowl rest for 15 minutes before serving as the eggs would have got a little flavouring by now.Serve with hot plain boiled rice or any kind of roti!I served it with homemade Roomali Roti!
Served with Roomali Roti…