Thursday, September 19, 2013

Naadan Varatharacha Motta Curry / Kerala Egg Curry

Varatharacha curry is a popular coconut and coriander seeds based gravy for non vegetarian dishes in Kerala. My mother made both eggs / motta and chicken / kozhi in a varatharacha gravy. Here, in this recipe for Varatharacha Motta curry, I have added a little whole spices, but this curry / kootaan can be made omitting them as well. In which case, the taste of the coconut and coriander seeds with the coconut oil varatha iddal will stand out which is the most authentic taste of Kerala.
In Kerala, many households continue to cook only in coconut oil and many a times the oil is extracted from the coconuts got from their own houses. The process of oil extraction is laborious and is best done with extra pairs of hands and when the sun is at its hottest. At my grandmother's house in Kerala, once the coconuts are collected from the grounds and fields, some are kept aside for extracting oil. These have to de-husked, then broken in half and put out to dry in the sun. After a few days in the sun, the kernel shrivels a little and the shell starts separating from it. At this point, they have to be manually separated and the kernels are again put out to dry. The coconut kernel has to be sun dried completely else the extracted oil goes rancid. These dried coconut kernels are then taken to the mill to be pressed to extract oil.
The last time, my parents visited Kerala, they got me some home milled coconut oil that I am using currently. Since it is home milled oil without any preservatives it tends to go rancid much earlier than the branded oils. I prefer to keep it in the frig and only keep about 200gms out in room temperature to be used sparingly so I can stretch it as much as possible.

And now getting back to my Varatharacha Motta Curry, this is a great dish to be paired off with appams for breakfast and with rice or parathas for lunch or dinner. The recipe:
Eggs - 4
Coconut - 1.5 cups
Onion - 1 medium
Tomato - 1 large
Turmeric pwd- 1tsp
Red Chilli pwd - 2 tsp
Garlic - 5
Ginger - 1 inch piece
Oil - 1tsp
Salt as per taste
whole spice / khada masala
Coriander seeds - 3tbsp heaped
Peppercorns - 8 to 10
Cloves - 3
Cinnamon - 1 inch piece
Star Anise - 1 or 2 petals
Green Cardamom - 1/2
Black Cardamom - 1/4
for tempering
Coconut oil - 1tbsp
Mustard seeds - 1tsp
Dry red chilli - 2
Curry leaves - 2 sprigs
Boil the eggs and let them cool. When cool shell them and lightly sauté in 1tsp oil and keep aside. Pierce the boiled eggs with a knife so that the gravy can seep in. Fine chop the onions, tomatoes, ginger and garlic and keep aside separately.
Heat a pan, first dry roast the grated coconut till brown, then do the same with the coriander seeds separately. Then dry roast the pepper corns, cloves, cinnamon, star anise, green cardamom seeds and black cardamom seeds together till the aroma is released. Heat a spoon of oil in the same pan and sauté half the chopped onions. When the onions are translucent add the chopped ginger and garlic and sauté till the raw smell has gone. Grind together the coconut, coriander seeds, whole spices and onions-ginger-garlic with some water to a fine paste.
Heat a sauce pan and add the ground paste and stir it for a minute. Add the turmeric powder, chilli powder and chopped tomatoes and sauté till well mixed. Add 2 cups of water, a few curry leaves torn and cover and cook till the tomatoes have turned soft. Add salt according to taste and check if the gravy is semi-thick. If the gravy is watery boil for sometime so some water evaporates or if gravy is thick then add some water to thin it. Add the eggs. Lower the heat and let the eggs soak in the gravy for a couple of minutes. Take off the heat and keep covered.
Heat a pan for the tempering or varatha iddal / tempering and add some coconut oil, when hot add the mustard seeds. When it splutters add the onions, curry leaves and the dry red chillies and sauté till the onions are golden brown. Take off the heat and immediately pour into the egg curry. Cover the egg curry with a lid till ready to serve. Adding cheriya ulli or shallots instead of regular onions for the varatha iddal / tempering gives a lovely flavor to this curry.

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