Masala french toast

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Masala french toast

In India we seem to have a savory correlate for a lot of Western breakfasts. Yes, we have crepes, but we call them dosas and have them with sambhar. Yes we have pancakes, except we call them uttapams and once again dip them in hot chutneys and sambhars. We have our comfort food in cream of wheat (sooji/rawa), except it is cooked with mustard seeds and chilies and onions to make upama.

And of course, we have French Toast, but please stay away from the whipped cream and the sliced bananas and the maple syrup, and instead reach for the chilies and onions — presenting the Masala French Toast. This makes enough  for one serving of brunch.

Step 1: chop the vegetables

Finely chop: half a small onion, half a small tomato, one serrano chili, a fistful of cilantro.

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Masala french toast vegetables

Step 2: combine with eggs

Break two small eggs into a bowl along with the chopped vegetables. Add 3/4 teaspoon salt. Stir with a fork using a beating motion. You could use an egg beater if you like, The eggs will get a little foamy but there is no need to get them completely whipped.

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Step 3: soak the slices of bread

I used two large slices of white French bread. I generally prefer French bread for this recipe because it has no added sugar (most of the store-bought sliced breads will have added sugar, which clashes with the savoriness of this recipe). Lay them flat on a plate, pour about two-thirds of the egg mixture on. Spread it to cover the slices. The chopped vegetables will cover the slices, that is fine. Soak for a few minutes, turn the slices over, and soak the other side as well. All in all, the slices should soak for about five minutes. Help the egg along onto the dry parts if it is being shy.

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Masala french toast soaking

Step 4: shallow fry

Heat a nonstick pan on medium-high with a teaspoon or two of oil. Spread it around the pan with a spatula. When it shimmers, it is time to lay the soaked slices down: carefully, their structure is probably pretty compromised by egg-soaking by now.

Now one side of each slice will be better soaked than the other (this is what usually happens with me). Lay this side down first, with only a minimal amount of vegetables sticking to it. Our plan is to get this side to crisp up in that wonderfully eggy way, and a thick layer of chopped vegetables will only interfere with the browning.

But the top surface is where the thick layer of chopped vegetables belongs. Once the slices are laid down, pour the rest of the egg mixture on the surface of the slices, spread it around.

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Masala french toast shallow fry

Wait about seven minutes on medium-high heat, and the lower surface will start to brown, crisp up, and will smell quite eggilicious. At this point, carefully flip them over with a spatula. No heroics, just gently lift them up, and lay them down the other side, with the help of a fork. If you try the fancy flipping techniques you will have eggy vegetables strewn all over the stove.

Lower the heat, cook for another few minutes, or just long enough to get the egg to set. Serve!

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Masala french toast flipped over


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