Keralan coconut & egg curry with carrot pickle

by Jenny Chandler

A tasty yet economical way to feed a crowd


For the carrot pickle:
500g medium sized carrots
2 tsp mustard seeds
3 tbsp coconut or vegetable oil
5 banana shallots, diced
20 curry leaves
4 cloves garlic, crushed 
4-6 hot, fresh chillies (red or green, as hot as you like), cut into long needles
4 - 6 tbsp tamarind paste
2 tbsp brown sugar or jaggery
1 tbsp amchoor (dried mango powder)
1-2 tbsp lemon juice/vinegar to taste

For the curry:
5 onions, sliced
3 tbsp coconut or vegetable oil
6 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
1 tbsp fresh ginger, finely chopped
1 tbsp black mustard seeds
6 cardamom pods, crushed
10 peppercorns, crushed
1 stick cinnamon
2 tsp chilli powder (or to taste)
1 tsp turmeric
1 tin chopped tomatoes
2 cans coconut milk
4 tbsp tamarind paste
12 hard-boiled eggs, shells removed (I like to boil my eggs for 6 minutes and then sit them in cold water before shelling them. It’s best to leave them whole so they don’t collapse when people are serving themselves)
20 fresh curry leaves or a handful of fresh coriander
1 tbsp vegetable oil


To make the pickle, begin by slicing the carrot into really fine matchsticks—you may even have a food processor that will do the job for you.

Take a large frying pan and fry the mustard seeds in the oil until they begin to sputter, then add the shallots, curry leaves, garlic and chillies and cook for 1-2 mins, until you can smell all the aromas.

Add the tamarind paste and the brown sugar, then toss the carrot into the pan and stir to cover it in all the juices. Cook for 2 mins—the idea is to keep a bit of crunch in the carrots.

Sprinkle over the mango powder, lemon juice and salt to taste. If you have a sweet tooth you could always add a few dates into the mix too, but be sure to balance with plenty of acidity. Set aside.

To make the curry, take your largest pan and begin by frying off the sliced onions in the oil until they soften and begin to caramelise.

Throw in the garlic, ginger, mustard seeds, cardamom, peppercorns and cinnamon. Fry over a high heat until you are enveloped in spicy aromas. Now sprinkle in the chilli and turmeric and give the pan a good stir.

Pour in the tomatoes, coconut milk and tamarind paste, bring up to the boil and then simmer for 10 mins.

Don’t add the boiled eggs to the sauce until you are going to eat—they will heat through in a simmering sauce in just 5 mins. While your eggs are warming through, fry the curry leaves for 2 mins. Once fabulously fragrant, tip them over the dish.

Serve with rice, flatbreads and the carrot pickle.

Recipe: Jenny Chandler