There is a farm store in the town where I work that has tall ceilings, thick black and white stripes of paint on the wall, large glass cases of food and space to walk around. It has a British feel to it, and on certain days it isn’t uncommon to meet staff who speak with a thick British accent. One day in this store, the name tag of a dish in the large glass case filled with prepared foods stood out and made me smile. I smiled because it had been a long time since I’d seen that dish much less taste it. It was a childhood favorite, inseparable from a family scene filled with happy expressions towards a clearly non-traditional dish.
Scotch eggs or hard-boiled eggs covered with minced meat is considered a traditional British dish. Interestingly, the nargisi kofta of Mughal Indian origin also involves hard-boiled eggs covered with meat, though any historical connection between the two egg dishes is unclear1.
Below is a simple method to make scotch eggs.
Eggs (to cook and for egg wash)
Minced or ground meat (preferably pork)
Seasoning for meat
Oil for deep-frying
Cook the eggs in boiling water to make either soft- or hard-boiled eggs. Once cooking is done transfer eggs to cold water and peel shell. Season meat with spices and herbs of choice. Set-up plates for the seasoned meat, cooked eggs, flour, breadcrumbs, and beaten raw eggs. Take a small amount of meat enough to flatten thinly on the palm of your hand. Place an egg in the center of this meat disk and bring the edges together to form a covered ball of meat. Roll the ball of meat to smoothen edges. After all eggs have been covered with meat, dredge each ball in flour, roll in egg wash, roll in bread-crumbs and place on a plate. Refrigerate the meat balls. Heat oil to 180-190˚C in a vessel, and fry the meat balls in batches for about four minutes or until golden brown and done. Drain the meatballs on a paper-lined plate before serving.
I have listened to many passionate and patriotic discussions about the British rule in India, especially from the generation of family born before India gained independence. I’ve also seen this generation get together over scotch eggs and stories of delicious English food. Patriotism to one’s country and enjoyment of food from a different culture – even if it were from a former colonial ruler - seem to be distinct phenomenon. One does not seem to adversely affect the other. But, does it have a positive influence? In general, does experiencing food from a foreign culture predispose one to a more positive outlook of that culture? And if so, does it hold true even in light of negative history?
- The Oxford Companion to Food by Alan Davidson