Chefs' Recipes

O Tama Carey's fried eggs with seeni sambol, coconut and turmeric

O Tama Carey's lattice-like fried eggs drowned in a creamy curry sauce are perfect for a hearty breakfast but work just as well at any time of day. Serve them topped with seeni sambol, a Sri Lankan sweet-spiced caramelised onion relish.

By O Tama Carey
  • 30 mins preparation
  • 25 mins cooking
  • Serves 6
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"I first cooked a version of this dish - inspired by the excellent deep-fried egg dish at Billy Kwong - while working at a restaurant in Sri Lanka," says O Tama Carey. "The lattice-like eggs are doused in a creamy turmeric curry sauce and topped with seeni sambol, a sweet-spiced caramelised onion relish. This dish is equally perfect for an indulgent breakfast as it is served as part of a larger meal." The recipe for the seeni sambol makes more than you need, but to get the right balance of spices you need to make at least this much. It keeps refrigerated for up to three weeks; use as an onion relish. The curry sauce can be made a day or two ahead.


  • Vegetable oil, for deep-frying
  • 4 - 6 eggs, at room temperature
Seeni sambol
  • 2 cm piece cinnamon quill
  • 2 cloves
  • Seeds from 4 cardamom pods
  • 3 tsp Maldive fish flakes (see note)
  • ½ tsp hot chilli powder
  • 2 tbsp ghee
  • 400 gm Spanish onions, thinly sliced (about 3)
  • ½ cup fresh curry leaves (loosely packed)
  • 10 gm ginger, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 tsp tamarind concentrate
  • Juice of 1 lime
Curry sauce
  • 1 tbsp ghee
  • ½ onion, thinly sliced
  • ½ cup fresh curry leaves (loosely packed)
  • 5 gm ginger, finely chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, coarsely chopped
  • 1 long green chilli, thickly sliced
  • 1 tsp coriander seeds
  • ½ tsp fennel seeds
  • ½ tsp cumin seeds
  • ½ tsp ground turmeric
  • 2 cm piece cinnamon
  • Pinch of fenugreek seeds
  • 400 ml coconut milk


  • 1
    For seeni sambol, finely grind cinnamon, cloves, cardamom seeds, 2 pinches of coarsely ground black pepper and a pinch of salt with a mortar and pestle. Add Maldive fish flakes and pound until they break up (a few chunkier pieces are fine), then stir in chilli. Warm a wide saucepan over medium heat, then add ghee. Once melted, add onion, curry leaves, ginger and garlic, and sauté until onion starts to soften (4-5 minutes). Add spice mix and stir until fragrant (about a minute). Stir in sugar and tamarind, then increase heat to high and cook, stirring often, until onion starts to caramelise but retains some bite (6-8 minutes). Remove from heat, add lime juice and stand to cool.
  • 2
    For curry sauce, melt ghee in a saucepan over low heat, then add onion, curry leaves, ginger, garlic and chilli. Season well with salt and coarsely ground white pepper, and sauté until onion softens (5-6 minutes). Add spices and fry until they're fragrant and start to stick to the bottom of the pan (5-6 minutes). Add coconut milk, stir to combine and bring to the boil, then remove from heat and blend in a high-speed blender until smooth. Keep warm.
  • 3
    Half-fill a wok with oil, ensuring wok is stable, and heat until oil starts to shimmer. Meanwhile, crack the eggs into small bowls. To see whether the oil is hot enough, drop a little eggwhite in the oil – it's ready when the white immediately rises to the surface sizzling and browning. If the oil isn't hot enough you won't get the perfect crisp bits; too hot and they will darken too fast. Slide the eggs gently into the oil (cook eggs in 2 batches) and fry until they rise and start to set, then carefully spoon hot oil over eggs and cook until eggwhites are lacy, golden brown and crisp (1-2 minutes). Lift eggs from oil, drain on paper towels, then transfer to plates.
  • 4
    Cut eggs to release runny yolk. Ladle warm curry sauce over and around them and serve topped generously with seeni sambol.


Maldive fish flakes are available from Sri Lankan grocers.
Drink Suggestion: Cloudy prosecco col fondo. Drink suggestion by Max Allen

  • undefined: O Tama Carey