Sunday, January 25, 2009

Indian Brunch

I have always wondered why Indian restaurants do not offer brunch on weekends instead of those all-you-can-eat buffets that are rarely good. There are so many brunch-worthy foods eaten for breakfast on the Subcontinent that it seems like an obvious business strategy to me. My husband often begs me to make him an Indian brunch on the weekends. Unfortunately, as I have mentioned before, I am still not very good at a lot of basic Indian dishes and so, I am usually at a loss. I still have not tried to make many of the Indian breads that are often eaten for breakfast, such as roti, paratha, and luchi (or puri). And, despite the photograph, I still have not learned how to make these breads. The paratha in this picture is courtesy of my mother-in-law, who actually gave me prepared balls of dough. All I did was roll them out and fry them in some olive oil (cooking oil or ghee is more traditional). And, despite all the help, they still came out only . . . ok. I did, however, make some great accompaniments -- aloo bhaja (or fried potatoes) and an Indian-style omelet.

Practically every region of India has a recipe for aloo bhaja. I made the Bengali version, which is very simple and requires only 4 ingredients. My only caveat is to watch how much turmeric you use -- I always use less than called for in any given recipe as I find that too much makes a dish too bitter (I also had trouble keeping the potatoes from flying out of the frying pan, resulting in a yellow-spattered stove top). There is also not much to the Indian-style omelet. What makes the omelet "Indian-style" is less the ingredients than the style of cooking the eggs. Indian omelets are usually made with oil, rather than butter, at a higher temperature, and are usually cooked through (not at all runny). Below are very loose "recipes" for the aloo bhaja and omelet

Aloo Bhaja


1 large russet potato, peeled and cut into matchsticks
a pinch of turmeric
salt & pepper
1 dried red chili pepper (optional)

1. Heat oil over medium high heat. Add the dried red chili pepper, if using, and stir until it turns an even deeper red.

2. Add the potatoes and sprinkle with salt, pepper, and turmeric. Stir and fry until the potatoes are cooked through.

Makes 2 servings

Indian-style Omelet


3 large eggs
1/2 small onion, diced
2 small green chilies, diced (can also be seeded)
a few sprigs cilantro, finely chopped (optional)
salt & pepper


1. Whisk together all the ingredients except the oil.

2. Heat the oil over medium high heat. Add the egg mixture. Let it set for a second (it should start cooking immediately). Then, fold the egg over itself and flip until cooked through.

Makes 2 servings.

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