If close my eyes, I can still picture my grandmother’s chicks in coats the color of well whipped butter. She tosses out a handful of grain and they bob about in a frenzy.
During my first trip to Kerala, I encountered animals throughout the day. I woke to a rooster’s call, accompanied by the solemn sound of Muslim prayers. After breakfast, I got to touch a cow's jiggly udder. Her milk was churned into butter by mid-day. I kept an eye out for the neighbor’s goats, which appeared like magic, in search of tender leaves. Eyes alert. Heads held high.
Fast forward more years than I care to admit, and nothing much has changed. I have developed a deeper appreciation for India’s architectural and artistic wonders, but it’s still random encounters with animals that compel me the most. From poufy-bummed chickens pecking around the yard to free-range goats frolicking about to hulking elephants ambling down the road with their trainer. So much of life in India goes un-curated, and to me, that’s the most wondrous thing of all.
EGGS IN COCONUT MILK
This dish is traditionally served with a fermented Syrian Christian bread called appam. In our family, they are served together for breakfast on Christmas and on Easter. When I'm strapped for time, I pair this dish it with white rice. Either way, it's delicious!
1 1/4 tablespoon coriander seeds
1/8 teaspoon cayenne
1/8 teaspoon turmeric
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3 cardamom pods
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
1 cup water
2 tablespoons coconut oil
1/4 teaspoon brown mustard seeds
1 1/2 cups finely sliced onions
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons finely cut ginger
1 teaspoon finely cut garlic
1/2 cup potatoes, peeled and chopped into 1-inch pieces
1 cup diced tomatoes
10 to 15 fresh curry leaves
1 cup coconut milk
Place the eggs in a saucepan and cover with water. Bring to a boil. Remove from heat. Cover and let sit for 5 minutes.
Peel the eggs and score lengthwise.
Blend the coriander, cayenne, turmeric, cinnamon, cloves, cardamom, and fennel in a coffee grinder or spice grinder.
Heat the oil in a medium size skillet over medium-low heat. Add the mustard seeds. When they begin to pop, add the onions and salt. Cook until they become translucent, stirring occasionally, for 10 to 15 minutes.
Add the curry leaves, potatoes, tomatoes, ginger, and garlic. Cook until the potatoes and tomatoes soften, about 15 minutes.
Add the spices to the onions and cook for 2 to 3 minutes, stirring constantly. Add the water.
Add the eggs and stir gently. Add the coconut milk, stir, cover and cook on low for 5 minutes.