The petrol station. Where food goes to die. This is why people think badly of Scotch eggs, although, thankfully there has been a little positive renaissance recently of these picnic staples, and done well, they are delicious. There was even a recent trend for ‘artisan scotch eggs’ in the edgier areas of London. Although why you’d want an artisan to make your lunch rather than a cook is beyond me. It would probably be full of wood shavings and metal filings. And no doubt beard hair.
There is much debate about the origin of this dish. I wonder if ‘scotching’ an egg means keeping it alive but rendering it harmless inside a case. Shakespeare says in Macbeth ‘We have scotch’d the snake, not kill’d it’ (see, Mrs. Hutchings, I was paying attention at the back). But whatever the origin of the term, it doesn’t seem to be used for any other dishes. And whatever the method or serving, egg wrapped in meat cannot fail to be a good thing. Unless you’re vegan. Or vegetarian.
Allegedly invented in the 18th century at Fortnum and Masons, the dish pops up all over the place if you look carefully behind the cushions. The one that excited me most of all was from Lucknow, in India. Their version is served in a rich, spicy gravy but here I’ve taken those flavours and added them to the meat itself then serve it with a yoghurt dipping sauce. A kind of Scotch egg curry. Bloody hell. And as with many British meals, our Empire travels, subjugation and plundering has given us a wide variety of dishes full of spice and exotic backgrounds. Every cloud and all that…
500g lamb mince
A few tablespoons of paste made from onion, green chilli, garlic and ginger
2tsp ground turmeric
1tbsp ground cumin
1tbsp chilli powder
1tbsp ground cumin
2tsp dried mint
2tsp ground fenugreek
Salt and pepper
4 eggs, boiled for five and a half minutes then quickly cooled (I boiled mine for four minutes for a runny and explosive yolk filling, but you may want it firmer)
Breadcrumbs (I used panko and crushed them a little) mixed with 1tbsp garam masala.
For the dip:
Coriander leaves, chopped
Mint leaves, chopped
Toasted flaked almonds
1/2tsp grated garlic
1/2tsp grated ginger
Pinch of ground cinnamon, ground cardamom and caraway seeds
Mix the meat and spices together and wrap each egg in a layer of the mixture, making sure the whole egg is sealed. Do this gently, it’s easy to squash them.
Put in the fridge for an hour to chill and firm then roll each one in the breadcrumbs, pressing them into the meat.
If you have a deep-fryer, this is what it was born for. If not, carefully cook them in oil in a deep and heavy pan, only half-filling it to avoid accidents and over spill.
Heat the oil to 180c and cook the eggs, a couple at a time until golden brown all over. This will take about four to five minutes.
Drain on kitchen paper and leave to cool a little before serving with the dip, extra green chillies and coriander leaves.