Tucked away in the corner of terrace, near the busy junction of metro station, housed in a century old building, the canteen was cozy and intimate, always brimming up with flavours of foods, gossips and music. Even at 6.30 in the morning you can find students waiting near the tiny counter for their morning cup of tea and singara (samosa). And we used to enjoy special privileges as ours was the only classroom that was just next to the canteen. And that would mean we can sneak anytime between the boring lectures to get our share of early morning protein aka “dimer devil”.
Eating inside the classroom while the class was still going on was never a shameful thing for us, it was more of necessity as there were hardly any breaks in between the lectures. Rules were simple. Just chew silently (no noisy chabor chobor) and keep your eye fixed on the lecturer, nodding meaningfully at times, enjoy the meaty filling of fried deviled eggs with kasundi was the ultimate thing you can expect in the early morning. Life could not get better than that. Enjoying secretly the deviled eggs compensated everything, rising early to attend the 6.30 morning lecture too. On flip side, this happens when the education is based on rote learning system, and once you are graduated to an international universities, a new world dawn upon you. The recent mass cheating at school in Bihar attest to this fact. So as long as our universities keep this tradition of rote learning system, you can enjoy the deviled eggs (inside the classroom).
Well, lets not deviate from the food talk. You might ask me, what was so special about our college canteen dimer devil. I don’t know why we were so mad about it, may be because of the thrill to sneak few deviled eggs inside the classroom or was the deviled eggs were that damn good. But for us the story of deviled eggs starts and ends there, in our college canteen. In one word “nothing beats our college canteen dimer devil”. Hence I am dedicating this post to those bygone sweet memories.
It is sinful to attest the word devil to such a nice dish called deviled eggs or is it really that “sinful”, I mean extremely pleasing to the senses. As per the culinary history the word “devil” was coined in the year 1786 to describe a food preparation that were deep-fried and seasoned with hot spices and condiments, extremely pleasing, and certainly not relating to satanic thoughts. Peppers and other spices were prized commodity in those ages, so seasoning any food with them was considered stylish, fashionable and premium. Deviled dishes were very popular throughout the nineteenth and into the twentieth centuries, specially the eggs and seafood.
How Bengal got its taste of deviled eggs, rechristened to “dimer devil” is matter of controversy. One school of thought believes that it had come via the British while others found a strong connection between the Mughal’s nargisi kofta. Both of them had left indelible mark on the culinary history of bengal. Another theory is that Brits borrowed the recipes rom the Mughals and had renamed it. Who borrows it from whom is history now, and the interesting fact is that it belongs to Bengalis now, the most sought after street food of Kolkata, the favourite food in many college canteens.
There are two ways of making this supremely appetizing “dimer devil”. As a general rule, the yolk is first scoop out of the hard-boiled egg-shell, then mash it with the filling. Since it will be a deep-fried dish, so filling will need a binder. Flour, breadcrumbs or potatoes are added to the filling. Once the eggs are coated well, it is then allowed to sit for two hours or more so that the filling attached itself well to the eggs. Devils are then dipped in egg batter, rolled in breadcrumbs and deep-fried. Most of the time it is served with simple tomato ketchup but as Bengalis are fond of their kasundi, so serving dimer devil with kasundi brings out its true essence.
The classic version uses minced meat as filling but now a days vegetarian versions are popular as well. I am definitely talking about a separate sect here called “egg-etarian” that includes those who enjoys eggs but not any meat. So if you belong to that particular sect and want to try the “vegetarian” versions then instead of meat filling you can try potatoes only, or potatoes mashed with scrambled paneer or a mix of mashed paneer, peas and potatoes. Some like to keep the yolk in its place and some like to scoop it out for better taste. I took the midway. I had boiled few extra eggs to use their yolk in the filling, to enjoy the best of both worlds.
Here goes the recipe:
- Eggs (hard boiled) : 4
- Minced meat : 300 gm
- Potatoes (boiled): 1 large
- Onion : 1 cup finely sliced or chopped
- Fried onion : ½ cup
- Green chillies: 4-5 finely chopped
- Bay leaf : 1
- Bengali garam masala / clove-cinnamon-cardamom powder: ½ tsp
- Cumin powder: 1 tsp
- Black pepper powder: ½ tsp
- Red chilli powder : ½ tsp
- Corainder leaves ; a handful (chopped)
- Breadcrumbs : 1 cup
- Flour to dust
- Egg batter : 2 eggs
- Oil for deep frying
- salt to taste
- Use good quality minced meat and the mince should be fine, not coarse.
- Heat a tablespoon oil in a pan, brown the onions and add the minced meat.
- Add salt and spices. Keep frying till the mince meat becomes tender.
- Lower the heat and cook the meat till done.
- Once cooled enough, add mashed boiled potatoes, green chillies, fried onion, coriander leaves and yolk (if you are scooping it out or using extra yolk).
- with your hand mash and mix everything evenly and nciely.
- Halve the eggs.
- Dust the eggs lightly with flour.
- Make small balls (golf ball size) of the mixture.
- Cover the halved eggs with the mixture, evenly and there should not be gaps or any peeking holes. Eggs should be nicely covered with the filling.
- Repeat the process with the rest of the eggs.
- Once the devil is prepared, cover and keep it in the fridge for two hours (minimum).
- Let the filling stick to the eggs nicely.
- Make a assembly line of egg batter by beating the eggs in a separate bowl.
- Spread the flour and breadcrumbs in a separate plate.
- Heat a deep frying pan and heat the oil.
- Take out the deviled eggs from the fridge, dust it with flour lightly, shaking off the extras, dip the devils in the egg batter, and then roll it in the breadcrumbs evenly.
- Repeat the process once more.
- Deep fry the deviled eggs in hot oil till you get the golden brown color.
- Slot them out on kitchen towel to absorb the extra oils.
- Repeat the process with all the eggs.
- Serve the deviled eggs / diemr devil with tomato ketchup or kasundi (bengali mustard sauce) and with sliced raw onions and cucumbers or salad of your choice.
Happy weekend !