Eggs in Tomato Sauce, Myanmar Style
This is one of my favorite Myanmar dishes to make. First, because it’s fun to peel so many boiled eggs at once! Second, because it doesn’t involve processing/cleaning any meat (this can take a lot of time if you shop at wet markets in Myanmar). And best of all, the dish keeps really well in the fridge for several days—it’s a great make-ahead meal, and the flavors improve over time, much like with a pot of soup.
I like having this dish on hand for school days. My daughter takes her lunch to school in a three-tiered metal tiffin (see the next photo). In the morning before breakfast, I’ll cook a pot of rice, and then pop the warm rice in the bottom of the tiffin, an egg from the curry in the next tier, and some fresh fruit or veggies on top. The egg warms up nicely in the layer above the hot rice, and the veggies on top stay cool. It’s the easiest school lunch ever!
On days when I don’t have this dish on hand and I need a quick and easy school lunch, I run out to buy it from one of my neighbors’ curry shops. By 7:30 or 8 each morning (sometimes earlier depending on the shop), neighborhood curry shops start placing steaming hot metal pans of chicken, fish, and egg curries out on tables along the street. Along with the curries, they’ll sell steamed veggies as an accompaniment or palate cleanser for the meal. And where there is curry for sale, there is always, always, a large pot of cooked rice waiting too.
This egg curry is sold by the half egg. If you order it to go from one of these shops, the proprietor will whip out a small plastic baggie and gingerly scoop the requested amount of egg halves into the bag before drizzling the whole lot with a generous helping of sauce. Then she’ll tie the baggie in a secure knot that is easily released on one pull. She’ll offer you a serving of rice in a separate to-go baggie, and you’ll be set for the day’s lunch. Pre-pandemic, I could get three egg halves with a bit of sauce in a parcel to go for about 1,000 Myanmar kyats (about $0.75 USD).
But enough nostalgia for pre-pandemic convenience food! One day, being able to support my neighbor’s curry shops will be my normal again, but for now, I’m making this recipe at home. So without further ado (and with thanks to my friend Khine Khine for teaching me this recipe) here are the instructions for eggs in tomato sauce, Myanmar style.
Eggs in Tomato Sauce, Myanmar Style
1 14-oz can of crushed tomatoes, or 4 medium size tomatoes, diced
10-12 eggs, medium boiled, cooled and peeled
2-3 shallots, or 1 medium cooking onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, sliced thin
2-3 tsp. ginger, minced
1/3 cup vegetable oil
½ tsp of turmeric
½ tsp chili powder (or adjust to taste)
2 tsp salt
3 tsp fish sauce
½-¾ cup of water, approximately
¼ cup of fresh cilantro/coriander, chopped
Using a mortar and pestle, pound together the shallots, garlic, and ginger until the ingredients have softened together and are well combined (about 2 minutes). Alternately, you can put these ingredients in a food processor and pulse a few times until softened. Set aside.
In a large saucepan, heat oil. When it is hot, add the turmeric. If the turmeric sizzles on contact with the oil, then it’s hot enough. Add the pounded shallot mixture to the hot oil. Add in the chili and salt and continue cooking on medium high for a minute or so. Once everything is fragrant, add the tomatoes, fish sauce, and 1/2 cup of water. Turn the heat to low, and continue to cook.
While the tomato sauce is simmering, score the boiled eggs lengthwise (about 3-4 cuts per egg). Taking care not to be splattered, place the eggs in the sauce as it cooks, and continue to cook the eggs and the sauce together for another 5-10 minutes. If need be, add a little more water to the mixture to make sure the eggs are nearly covered. Turn them as they simmer so that they can absorb the flavor and color of the sauce from all sides.
This dish can be served immediately with rice, or it can be set aside and served at room temp with hot rice a bit later. Top each serving with chopped coriander to enhance the flavors of the dish.
This curry keeps for 5-6 days in the fridge. It’s easy to reheat, but it’s also great eaten cold with hot rice.
- If you’d like it spicier, add fresh whole chilis to the sauce at the same time you add the tomatoes.
- Some Myanmar home cooks add garam masala to the sauce for a different flavor. My friend KhineKhine, who taught me to make this dish, doesn’t use the garam masala for this recipe. I prefer it that way because I like the taste of the ginger and garlic to come through in the sauce, and I think the garam masala is a bit overpowering. But if you enjoy the flavor of curry powder or garam masala, feel free to give it a try.
(here’s a cilantro-free final image of the dish for those of you who find cilantro distasteful 🙂