Last year when my daughter started eating finger foods I started running out of ideas for breakfast. She seemed to gravitate towards savory foods and I was rotating between dosas, paranthas and eggs every few days. She wanted to hold her food and her aching gums craved for something to bite on. Although she didn’t seem to mind her morning menu, I wanted her to have more variety. Prior to becoming a Mum my husband and I would rush to work grabbing tea, coffee, fruit, anything quick to bring back to our desks. Weekends were the only time I had time to cook in the morning and the only time my husband had the desire to sit down and eat breakfast peacefully. Now that our little one is eating “grown up foods”, I get to have breakfast with her and truly relish that time. In fact, growing up we generally were in the same rush going to school/work on the weekdays. Mom would force us to have cereal, some bread with cheese and jam or at least a glass of milk before rushing to catch the bus. Once the weekend rolled around she made sure we had a satisfying breakfast with dishes such as Aloo ke parathe (Potato stuffed flatbread), Chole Bature (Chickpea curry with a soft warm bread to soak up the curry), Omelets stuffed with mixed vegetables and Masala French toast which we would dip in ketchup and HP sauce before eating.
Masala French toast is something I started making for Little Mirchi which she immediately took a liking to. For this recipe I used a soft baguette but any bread will do. I like to use firmer breads as I prefer the way the crust holds up and the middle doesn’t become mush after soaking in the egg and milk mixture. Regular bread is scarce at our home as we can never manage to finish the entire loaf. When we do bring bread we generally pick up baguettes, Portuguese rolls or croissants, as they tend to come in smaller quantities and we prefer the texture and flavor more.
Here’s a little history and humor about the name. For many of the North American sweet breakfasts there are savory South Asian versions, the traditional sweet crepe is our very own Masala Dosa, for oatmeal we have dalia or upma, for smoothies there are sweet and salty lassis. Masala French toast is the South Asian savory version of the traditional cinnamon and sugar laced French toast. If you’ve seen the movie Queen (Which if you haven’t I highly recommend you do) there’s a scene which describes the irony behind this dish perfectly. Rani (the protagonist) makes this “French Toast” for her European roommates. When one of her roommates asks her what it is she tells him it’s french toast, to which he responds “I am from France, it is not French toast.” Rani: “Nahin yeh sirf India mein milta hain. We get this only in India. (You get this French toast, only in India)” I can’t tell you the amount of times I’ve watched that scene and how I get a kick out of it every single time.
When I’m making this for my husband and myself I like to incorporate chopped green chilies, onions and cilantro for added flavor and texture.
I love that Masala French Toast is a complete family breakfast that can be made last minute. I serve it to my daughter plain or dipped in a bit of ketchup. It also tastes great with a sweet and spicy chutney or hot sauce. This recipe can be altered to your spice tolerance and is a great finger food for kids or for adults on the go.
1 small baguette
¼ cup of milk
1 teaspoon roasted cumin powder
1 teaspoon coriander powder
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon red chili powder
2 tablespoons oil or butter
Optional: 1/3 cup finely chopped mix of onions, cilantro and green chilies
Cut baguette into 1 inch thick slices. In a large bowl wisk together spices, eggs, milk and any vegetables and herbs until everything is well incorporated. Soak bread slices in mixture. On medium low, heat oil or butter in a heavy bottom pan. Add a few slices of soaked bread to pan and cook 2-3 minutes on each side until golden brown. You might need to do this in small batches as the Masala French toast will not cook evenly if you overcrowd the pan. Garnish with chopped cilantro or your choice of chutney.
P.S. Don’t forget about the Freshly Picked Moccasins giveaway ending next week!