Every culture has their spin on a baked egg recipe smothered in tomato sauce. The simplest one, as often is the case, comes from the Italians. It involves the usual suspects: garlic, upon garlic—frizzled in hot oil until golden brown—and a dangerous heap of chili flakes, which sends the eggs into delicious Dante-esque purgatory.
Charlie has been working insane hours for the last month, including weekends. So a few Saturdays ago, during one of endless wedding seasons rare respites, I whipped up a quick eggs in purgatory before he left for the office. It felt elaborate compared to our usual olive oil fried egg and bacon MO, but somehow took even less time.
Speaking of time, I don’t know where it went this week.
I got hit with my latest round of book edits, and my days have turned into one long marathon at the computer. Sometimes it does feel like I’m in my very own Microsoft Word purgatory. This process has been two years’ worth of “hurry up and wait.” And the waiting has been the hardest for me.
It’s strange to go from a blog pace, where words pour out effortlessly and imperfectly, and get published five minutes later, to a beast of a project that I’ve been stewing over on and off for 24 months. In between the periods of feverish work is when my mind gets the best of me and the doubts start to sink in. I won’t get into it too much today, because I’m feeling pretty drained of words at the moment. But the voices in my head this fall have been particularly big jerks.
Anyhow, the manuscript has become, in my editor’s words, a bit of a “behemoth.” So I’ve spent the last week taking out the seams and trimming it down a few dress sizes. The hardest part is working in a vacuum. I’ve become such a glutton for your feedback, I find myself wondering ten times a day whether I’ve put together the right balance of scenes from my struggle and tips to make your journey less of one. My critical eyes and Ira Glass taste level knows that I am far from a literary feat. But hopefully the end result, once detoxed and free of dead weight, will at least be of service to you. Because that’s what makes all the years of work worth it.
During this overly heady period at my desk, I’ve been keeping things really simple in the kitchen. And one of the recipes I went on autopilot to make this week was that same eggs in purgatory. Only, I decided to do a really easy Indian spin on it using my second favorite spicy tomato sauce in the world: masala.
This version is much less labor intensive than the one that dresses your chicken tikka. You simply add garam masala, cumin and a little cayenne to the garlic and tomatoes, then a can of coconut cream to make it cloudy and luscious. You could use 1/4 cup Greek yogurt instead, which would make the sauce even thicker. But I like the subtle sweetness of the coconut with eggs, and you can always serve yogurt on the side for a little tang.
The most important thing with this recipe is not to overcook the yolk. Keep checking in on the eggs as they cook and when there’s just a hint of skin on the whites and still a bit of wiggle, take it off the heat. You can always cook it more. But you’ll never get that golden goodness back if you go too far.
Thanks for bearing with me as I disappear for the week and pop in on Friday with a simple egg recipe. It’s just in time for an elaborate weekend brunch, should your own fried egg and bacon MO be getting old. But like one of my other favorite smothered egg recipes, shakshuka, I also highly recommend resurrecting this as a weeknight Meatless Monday dinner over quinoa, rice or roasted sweet potatoes, like I used here.
From one egg (and book) purgatory-loving hedonist, to another,
Masala-Style Baked Eggs in Purgatory
- 1 tablespoon coconut oil or ghee
- 1 large shallot, thinly sliced
- 1 large garlic clove, minced
- 1 teaspoon garam masala
- 1/2 teaspoon cumin
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne
- 2 cups tomato sauce (or one 15-ounce can crushed tomatoes)
- One 4-ounce can coconut cream
- Sea salt
- 4 large eggs
- Mint or cilantro leaves, for garnish (optional)
In a large (10 to 12-inch) cast iron skillet with a lid, heat the oil.
Sauté the shallot and garlic over medium heat until soft, about 3 minutes. Stir in the garam masala, cumin and cayenne and cook one minute more, until fragrant. Carefully pour in the tomato sauce and coconut cream. Simmer gently until the sauce has thickened enough to coat the back of the spoon, 5 minutes. Season to taste with salt.
Using your spoon, create four wells in the sauce and crack an egg into each. Place the cover on the pan and simmer the mixture over medium heat until the whites are set, but the yolks are still runny, 3 to 5 minutes.
Garnish with mint or cilantro and serve alongside roasted sweet potatoes and Greek yogurt.
You can easily halve this recipe and use a smaller (8-inch) pan, as pictured.