- 4 eggs
- 2 juicy limes
- 10g (1 tbsp) grated pale palm sugar
- ½ bird's eye chilli, thinly sliced (more or less to taste) or any other red chilli
- 1 tsp fish sauce
- Small thumb of ginger, peeled then finely julienned or chopped
- Vegetable oil for deep-frying the eggs
- 1 tbsp garam masala (recipe follows)
- Small handful fresh coriander leaves
- 1 spring onion, finely sliced
- 1 tbsp crispy shallots (buy these from Asian food stores or make them yourself)
For the Garam masala
- 8cm cinnamon quill, snapped into smaller pieces
- 2 Tbsp green cardamom seeds (not the pods)
- 1 Tbsp black peppercorns
- 1 Tbsp black cumin seeds
- 1 Tbsp coriander seeds
- 2 tsp whole cloves
- 1 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
- 1 tsp fennel seeds
Bring a pot of water to the boil then carefully lower the eggs in on a slotted spoon and bring back to the boil. For a medium-sized egg, boil 4½ minutes. Take the eggs from the boiling water and place in a bowl, then take to the sink and run cold water over them for 2 minutes to cool down. Leave the eggs in the water for a few more minutes then peel them. Once peeled, place back in the bowl of water - this stops them collapsing on themselves if their yolks are still quite soft.
Meanwhile, finely grate the zest from half of one of the limes into a bowl. Add the palm sugar and chilli and mash together. Squeeze the juice from the limes over this mixture, you need 40-50 ml, and mix until the sugar has dissolved. Stir in the fish sauce and ginger and leave for a few minutes.
Heat 6cm of vegetable oil to 180°C. I find it best to deep-fry the eggs in a medium-sized deep pan as the eggs can splatter a bit. Carefully remove the eggs from their bath and lay on kitchen paper, then roll them around a little to remove excess water. Carefully lower them into the oil and move them around a little to colour them evenly. They're ready when they turn a dark golden brown. Remove them from the oil, place on fresh kitchen paper briefly to absorb excess oil, then roll on a plate scattered with the garam masala.
To serve, place the eggs on 4 individual plates and scatter with the coriander and spring onion. Drizzle on the lime chilli dressing and finish with the crispy shallots.
To make crispy shallots, simply peel red Thai shallots, or small regular shallots and rinse in a colander under gently running cold water for 10 minutes. Pat dry between kitchen paper then deep-fry in small batches in clean oil at 160°C. Drain on kitchen paper and store in an airtight container.
Mix everything together in a small bowl then place half of it into an electric spice or coffee grinder. Grind on full speed for 20 seconds then tip into a clean jar. Grind the rest, add to the first batch and shake well. I keep my mixture in an airtight jar in the fridge.