The other day I read an article by Vikram Doctor, one of my favourite Indian writers on food, in the Economic Times. This was on the Indian version of French toasts.
Unlike the French version, which is sweet, the Indian one is salty and spicy.
As Doctor says, this is a lovely way of converting tired, limp bread into a lipsmacking dish. He also said, that most men who dabble in the kitchen are partial to this as this is one of the first dishes one learns to make. Very true. I often used to make this for the family on Sundays in Calcutta, years back when I was in college.
I remember Calcutta street food guys selling something called 'deem paruti' (egg and bread) at the office area of Nizam Palace in the early eighties. They use to dunk a thick slice of bread in egg and toast it over a portable coal oven. I used to quite like it as a chubby seven year old on my way back from International School at Lee Road.
Doctor's article brought up some fond memories and I decided to make some French Toast before setting off to work the other day. They turned out to be best 'French Toasts' that I have ever made. Put me in a lovely mood as I sat behind the wheels to navigate the morning traffic to work.
So here's the real and easy way to make French Toast. This version is with olive oil and egg whites to tide over middle age angst of cholesterol, B P, etc. If you are young and restless with the world ahead of you then go ahead and use the whole egg, regular oil or even, dare I utter the forbidden word, butter.
- 3 slices of white bread
- About 4 tablespoons of olive oil
- 2 eggs whites It's very easy to get egg whites. Crack an egg and let the egg plop into a bowl. Take a spoon and carefully scoop out the yellow and put it into another bowl, the bin, whatever. What remain is egg 'whites' - actually a transparent gel like thingie
- Add a dash of salt, pepper powder and (optional) oregano and chilly flakes and half a tea cup or a third of a coffee mug of milk to the egg and beat it. Note: 'beating' an egg means violently stirring it with a fork, spoon or an egg beater. Do not, I repeat do not, try an upper cut which sends the egg straight on to the kitchen wall. Your land lady, mother, spouse, partner won't see the humour
- Condiments: A teaspoon each of finely chopped chilles, tomatoes, capsicum/ bell peppers and green chillies. Other suggested additions are a touch of chopped ham, left over liver from chicken curry (I used to do that In Calcutta). Keep the condiments to a minimum as it will be dificult to mange the toast if over loaded
- Heat the oil in a non stick pan - 1 minute
- Put in the condiments (onion, chilly, etc) in the oil and fry them - 1.5 to 2 minutes
- Dunk the bread in the egg and smear both sides of the slice with the egg mixture
- Place the egg smeared bread on the condiments in the pan, let it fry on low flame for a minute or so and delicate flip it over with a ladle. The surface facing you should have hardened a bit. Flip this after a minute and repeat the cycle - 5 -6 minutes
- If you are feeling a but naughty then add a cheese slice or some grated cheese on the toast towards the end. There are few tastes more sensuous than that of cheese melted on a frying pan.
- Garnish with some chopped coriander. Alternates would be finely chopped curry leaves or basil
- Take the toast out when you feel its crisp enough
- Have it with ketchup
Note: there are a few points to keep in mind while making French Toast:
- DO NOT skimp on the oil. You would end up with soggy, limp toast
- DO NOT over do the condiments. You would find it difficult to flip the toast and it could break if there is too much sticking to it
- Try cutting the slice into two if you find it difficult to mange the whole slice
Vikram Doctor calls this 'Bombay' Toast. I disagree with this though as I had learnt to make French Toast it from my mother who had never come to Bombay at that point.
I prefer to call it Indo French Toast!