The simplicity of Burmese cuisine, mentioned in a previous post, extends to its sparse use of protein.
Eggs are more commonly consumed in Burma than meat, according to a recent story in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. That works just fine for adapting this dish to my kitchen, where eggs are cooked almost every day.
As I noted before, Burmese food combines the culinary influences of all its neighbors. That’s particularly evident in this dish’s tamarind paste and fish sauce, often seen in Thai food, abutting Indian chili powder and turmeric.
There also are tomatoes, so liberally used in Burma that it can bring to mind Mediterranean fare, said an Oregon chef for my February story on the subject. Aside from a few specialty ingredients, which can be omitted, this dish is an economical meal for four and requires little hands-on time.
Burmese Egg Curry
1 small bunch cilantro
3 medium onions, peeled
1 tablespoon peanut oil or other vegetable oil
1 (14.5-ounce) can chopped tomatoes
1 teaspoon tamarind paste, 1-inch cube of tamarind block or 1 teaspoon lemon juice (see note A)
6 curry leaves (optional)
1 tablespoon paprika
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon Indian chili powder or cayenne (see note B)
1 teaspoon fish sauce (optional)
8 large eggs
Cucumber slices for garnish
Radishes, for garnish
Cut stems off the cilantro and mince them, reserving leaves for later. Dice the onions finely.
In a saucepan over medium heat, heat the oil; add minced cilantro stems and finely diced onions. Saute until onions become tender, for about 2 to 3 minutes. Add the tomatoes, tamarind paste, optional curry leaves, paprika, turmeric, chili powder and optional fish sauce.
Simmer lightly for 2 hours, until mixture reduces. Use a hand blender or potato masher to get rid of any lumps.
While curry simmers, place the eggs in a saucepan and cover by an inch or 2 of water. Bring to a boil, lower temperature to a hard simmer and cook 4 minutes. Run eggs under cold water to stop cooking. Peel eggs and slice in half; yolks should be creamy, somewhere between hard-boiled and soft-boiled.
Add egg halves to simmering sauce and stir until coated. Serve immediately over hot rice. Sprinkle some reserved cilantro leaves on top and serve the cucumbers and radishes as a garnish.
Makes 4 servings.
NOTE (a): If using a tamarind block, available at Asian markets, soak the cube overnight in 1/2 cup boiling water until it breaks down into a thick paste; remove stones and fibrous bits.
NOTE (b): Indian chili powder, which is always spelled “chilli,” can be found in international stores; do not use Mexican chili powder, which is not the same thing. Both Indian chili powder and the suggested substitution of cayenne are very hot; use less, or even much less, if desired.