Since I had decided to spend a quiet Saturday at home, I was just going about making my breakfast, listening to some Bollywood numbers from the early 2000s, singing along with the lovely Sunidhi Chauhan as she breathed out “bhaage re mann kahi..” in her husky, soulful voice. Before I realized, I found myself reminiscing about the umpteen bus journeys I have been on, in those “volvo buses” as we prefer to call all the enormous multi axel buses (irrespective of their actual manufacturer) we resort to, especially for overnight, inter-state travel.
As odd as it may sound to a lot of you, I have always been a fan of overnight travel in these semi sleeper buses. I have lost count of the number of times I have sat through the night, by the window, watching the silhouettes of the trees lining the highway in the dark; the lone house far away with an oil lamp flickering on the verandah; fleeting glimpses of men in groups of 3 and 4 walking back home, maybe after a glass or two of local country liquor (assumptions, assumptions). It was on these journeys that I undertook, most of the time on my own, that I got a lot of my thoughts in order. There was always something soothing, something comforting in sitting by those glass windows of the bus spending sleepless nights, watching the short-lived sights on the highway glistening in the moonlight; something that nudged the child in me while I spent hours racing with the moon; something that whispered to me to stay patient and that the choppiness of sea had to end at some point and that calm would inevitably prevail.
I remember vividly how travelling overnight on one of these buses was my escape route every time I felt the need for some solitude to get the calm restored. Those were the days when I quite literally loved the journey much more than the destination. I would invariably have a list of things to sort out in my head, that would take hours of arguing with myself, beating myself up, shedding a few tears and in the end pacifying myself right before feeling rejuvenated to take on the world and all it had to throw at me, all over again. By sunrise, when the skies turned a lovely hue of violet and blue, before turning into that lovely shade of pink I would without fail have had the rosiness in life restored.
Having said that, there is one other thing I have always looked forward to especially on my journeys from Trivandrum to Bangalore. The food. Amma has always (every single time) packed a yummy dinner for me every time I was travelling from home. More often than not, it would be a couple of soft chappatis and a spicy beef roast. I would be thinking about the tight package in aluminium foil, even before I got on to the bus. And I shall shamelessly admit to you at this point, that I would gobble it up as soon as the driver turned on the engine, which means I would be starving by the time 8PM (which is dinner time for normal souls) came a knocking.
I seldom had reason to fret because the bus would take a halt for dinner and on the Trivandrum Bangalore route, it was almost always at Haripad, the little township in Alapuzha district, home to great, authentic Kerala cuisine. As soon as the bus would stop at a little run down shack on the wayside, I would be the first to fly out of the door, quite contrary to the demeanour that is expected out of a young lady travelling alone in my part of the world. I would just not give two hoots to the looks and the stares that have been meted out to me for daring to look like anything but a docile house cat because only the women who travelling with their husbands or fathers or brothers were expected to step out of the bus as late as..wait for it..8pm.
I would find for myself a cozy nook in the shack and call for a plate of hot, soft, lacy, appams along with a plate of steaming hot, spicy egg roast or chicken curry. I don’t think I have it in me to put into words the emotion that every bite of those super soft appams dunked liberally in the hot gravy engulfed me in. You have to experience the raw culinary skill hidden in these run down shacks to believe it. Nothing I write will do justice to the love that is served as food in these little joints.
Today I share with you the recipe to the Kerala Egg Roast which is almost as the same as the Tamizhan Muttai Thokku. It is a hearty, semi gravy dish with spells out comfort for all the days you are feeling meh. Super easy and totally worth the negligible amount of effort it takes.
Things you will need:
- Eggs- Hard boiled and halved- 4
- Onions- 2 medium sized, chopped finely
- Garlic- 2 big pods minced
- Tomatoes- 1 large, chopped finely
- Turmeric powder- ½ tsp
- Chilli powder- 2 ½ tsp (I use the normal chilli powder, but feel free to use Kashmiri chili in case you are not up for some heat)
- Coriander powder- 2 tsp
- Garam masala powder- ½ tsp (available in all indian stores)
- Cumin seeds- ¼ tsp
- Black Mustard seed- ½ tsp
- Dried red chillies- (the large ones that is used for tempering) 2 or 3
- Curry leaves- 1 sprig
How to go about it
- In a wok, heat some oil on medium heat. Splutter the mustard seeds, cumin seeds, dried chillies and curry leaves. Sauté the chopped onions and sufficient salt till they turn soft and a nice golden brown. Should take about 7 minutes. Please feel free to keep sautéing because well cooked onions is what gives this recipe the flavour.
- Add the minced garlic, sauté for about 2 minutes, until the raw smell is lost. Add the tomatoes, mix well and keep the wok closed for about 2 minutes. After that, open the wok and keep sautéing till the tomatoes are mashed well and the onion tomato mixture start to look homogenous.
- Add the masala powders to this and keep sautéing till the oil starts to leave the sides of the gravy. Add some more oil if the mixture starts to look too dry. Sauté for about 5 full minutes.
- Add half a glass of water to this, mix well. Add the boiled and halved eggs to the gravy. Make sure you don’t stir excessively and mash the eggs up. Be easy on the eggs, coat them with the thick gravy, close the wok and let it simmer for about 4 minutes.
- Open the wok, if the gravy looks nice and thick, your Kerala style egg roast is ready to be served with chappatis, appams or idiyappams. Dig in 🙂