Egg Curry Recipe

Lightly cook soft boiled eggs in a spiced coconut sauce in this versatile and simple, yet deeply flavorful, Sri Lankan curry.
Egg curry
Photo by Alex La

This is a spicy, warming red curry which is very traditional in Sri Lanka, and makes for a delicious breakfast, although you can eat it at any time of day. I add a little more coconut milk in this one than other curries because I find it cools the roasted, smoky, red curry liquor down and then you’re not packing too much heat first thing in the morning. Using fenugreek in the temper will give it a slight bitterness and burnt sugar flavor. I let it cook a little longer than usual, so it gets glossy and thick and creamy, and then I can easily scoop it up with some quick little pol rotis or crunchy buttered toast. The whole thing is finished off with a quick temper of crispy curry leaves and mustard seeds. I prefer the eggs with the yolks still soft inside, and if you have some seeni sambol in the fridge, I recommend a spoonful on the side. 


Serves: 3 to 4
Prep Time: 30 minutes 
Total Time: 1 hour 


for the Sri Lankan curry powder: 
¼ cup plus 3 tablespoons|30 grams coriander seeds
2 tablespoons cumin seeds
2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons black peppercorns
2 tablespoons coconut or vegetable oil
8 to 10 fresh curry leaves
2 cups|70 grams dried Kashmiri or medium hot red chillies
¼ teaspoon ground turmeric


for the curry: 
6 large organic or free-range eggs
2 tablespoons coconut or vegetable oil
½ red onion, peeled and finely sliced
2 garlic cloves, peeled and halved
2 medium tomatoes (approximately 7 ounces|200 grams), roughly diced
1 (7 ½-centimeter) piece of pandan leaf
½ cup|125 ml water
2 teaspoons Sri Lankan curry powder 
½ teaspoon ground turmeric
¼ cup plus 3 tablespoons|100 ml coconut milk
1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt, or to taste


for the temper: 
1 tablespoon coconut or vegetable oil
6 or 7 fresh curry leaves
½ teaspoon mustard seeds
½ teaspoon fenugreek seeds
1 green chili, sliced (and deseeded if you like)


  1. Make sure the windows are open and the ventilation is on, because roasting the chillies will kick up an intense smell which carries through the house. In a dry pan over a low-medium heat, roast the coriander, cumin, fennel and black peppercorns for 1 to 2 minutes, stirring regularly, until they begin to be really fragrant, then pour them into a bowl. Add the oil to the pan, and cook the curry leaves and dried chillies for 2 to 3 minutes, stirring often. Remove from the heat and when cool, blitz in a spice grinder or mini food processor until fine—you can blitz it in batches if you need to. Stir in the turmeric, and put the whole lot in a jam jar.
  2. Next, soft boil your eggs. Fill a large saucepan with water, and place over medium-high heat until it boils. You want a gentle rolling boil – big bubbles going at a regular pace, not really big noisy bubbles and not tiny bubbles either. Using a slotted spoon, carefully lower the eggs into the water one at a time. Using a timer, cook for 6 ½ minutes, maintaining a gentle boil as you go. Get a medium-sized bowl ready, filled about one-third full of cold water and 6 or 7 ice cubes. When the eggs are cooked, transfer them to the bowl of iced water. Wait 1 to 2 minutes for them to cool down a little, then gently crack and peel the eggs, starting from the wider end which contains the air pocket, then leave them in the iced water.
  3. To make the curry, get a medium-sized frying pan or wok over a medium-high heat. Add the oil and onion, and fry for 3 to 4 minutes, until starting to become translucent. Add the garlic, tomatoes and pandan leaf, if using. Cook, stirring, for 1 to 2 minutes until the onion begins to brown, then add the water, Sri Lankan curry powder, and turmeric. Mix well and cook for 2 to 3 minutes, then stir in the coconut milk and bring almost to a boil. Dip a tablespoon into the liquid, and stir just the liquid lightly and rapidly as it simmers for 7 to 8 minutes (this helps stop the coconut milk from splitting as it thickens up). You want the consistency to be thick and glossy. Season with the salt then remove from the heat.
  4. To make the temper, heat the oil in a small frying pan over a medium-high heat. Add the curry leaves which should sizzle up, the mustard seeds, fenugreek seeds and green chilli. Fry for 1 to 2 minutes until everything is really fragrant. Remove from the heat.
  5. Finally, turn a medium-high heat under your curry and add the eggs, stirring carefully to coat them in the curry for just 1 to 2 minutes. Pour the whole temper, including the oil over the top, and serve.

From Rambutan: Recipes from Sri Lanka by Cynthia Shanmugalingam. Used with permission of the publisher, Bloomsbury. Copyright 2022 by Cynthia Shanmugalingam. 

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