Chopping and dicing vegetables together in the kitchen, Top Chef's Padma Lakshmi and her mother, Vijaya, have the easy banter of chef and sous chef, calling out questions and answers to each other in a mix of English, Hindi, and Tamil, the languages they spoke at home in their native India. It's a verbal shorthand developed over a lifetime of working alongside each other. Fittingly, inside our May 2012 issue, they prepared a Mother's Day brunch that riffs on some classic dishes from India, including this dish of spiced eggs with tomatoes and cannellini beans.
"This bean stew is a version of the classic Indian dish Rajma, which my mother made every week throughout my childhood," says Lakshmi. "I like to make the beans ahead of time and reheat them while the eggs are frying."
Want more brunch recipes? See our gallery of our favorite recipes from top chefs, guaranteed to impress your guests.
3 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp cumin seeds
2 cloves minced garlic
1 cup diced shallots or onion (4 medium shallots or 1 large onion)
1 green bell pepper, diced
2 tsp minced fresh ginger
1 tsp garam masala or other curry powder (available in the Asian or spice section of supermarkets)
4 large, firm but ripe tomatoes, coarsely chopped
¼ tsp dried red chili flakes (optional)
2 cups cooked white cannellini beans (can be boiled ahead and cooled; canned and drained is OK too)
Salt and black pepper to taste
2–3 tbsp butter (optional)
½ lemon, juiced
3 tbsp chopped fresh cilantro leaves (plus extra for garnish)
Crusty sliced sourdough loaf
Olive oil or butter for frying eggs
Cracked black pepper
1. In a large saucepan, heat oil on medium; add cumin seeds. After 2 minutes, when seeds start to sizzle and darken just slightly, add garlic and shallots. Stir.
2. After 3 minutes, add bell pepper and ginger. Stir well. Once bell peppers have started to soften, about 2 to 3 minutes, sprinkle in garam masala and stir to coat vegetables evenly with spice mixture.
3. After 5 minutes, mix in tomatoes. When tomatoes start falling apart and release some liquid, about 4 to 5 minutes, taste. Add chili flakes if you want more spice.
4. If too much liquid evaporates in the pan, add ¼ cup water and stir. It should resemble a chunky pasta sauce. Add cannellini beans. Stir well and salt to taste.
5. Optional: Stir in a couple of pats of butter for added richness. Remove from heat; add lemon juice and cilantro leaves. Set aside.
6. Toast bread.
7. In a large skillet, heat oil or butter on medium. When fat starts sizzling, reduce heat slightly and crack your eggs two at a time into the pan, being careful not to let the eggs touch each other.
8. Cook eggs to your preference. Remove from heat and fry remaining eggs, replacing fat in the pan as needed.
9. Ladle ½ cup bean and tomato mixture on a plate. Serve with toast, topping each slice with a fried egg. Garnish with cilantro leaves and cracked black pepper. Serve immediately.