If you’re under the impression that French toast has to be sweet and only be enjoyed at breakfast or brunch, you are in for a delicious eye-opening taste.
Because “Savory French Toast” done up with Indian spices and served with a fruity tomato chutney with a hit of heat will have your taste buds dancing.
The recipe is from the new “Gunpowder: Explosive Flavors from Modern India” (Kyle Books), of which I received a review copy.
The book is by husband-and-wife Harneet Baweja and Devina Seth, along with Nirmal Save, the head chef of their Gunpowder restaurant in London, where the home-style cooking is a modern take on favorites they all grew up with. That includes “Kale and Corn Cakes,” “Ginger Chicken Wings,” “Maa’s Kashmiri Lamb Chops,” and “Mint and Apple Lassi.”
Brioche is used for this French toast, its soft, buttery texture and indulgent flavor creating a subtle sweet base for the savory, spicy flavors it sops up.
Besides eggs and milk, the soaking mixture for the bread includes turmeric, ginger, garlic, cilantro, scallions, green chile and tomato.
Owing to the turmeric, the bread slices turn very golden when cooked in the frying pan, where they emerge with a custardy center.
The tomato-cilantro-cumin-chile chutney is almost like a Mexican salsa in consistency and taste. It’s fabulous spooned all over the French toast.
You will probably have leftover chutney. Use it to accent grilled fish or shrimp — or even to dunk tortilla chips into.
The contrast of sweet and savory in this dish is just delightful. It will get your palate tingling no matter what time of day you care to enjoy it.
Savory French Toast
1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder
4 tablespoons milk
1 green chile, very finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
1 garlic clove, finely minced
3 tablespoons freshly chopped cilantro
1 tablespoon finely chopped scallions
1 cherry tomato, finely chopped
4 thick slices of brioche, sliced on the diagonal
3 to 4 tablespoons butter, for cooking
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Tomato and Coriander Chutney (recipe below), to serve
In a shallow dish, whisk the eggs with the turmeric and milk, then add the chile, ginger, garlic, cilantro, scallions, and tomato. Season with a good pinch of salt and black pepper.
Dip the bread in the egg mixture, one piece at a time, and let it soak for 15 to 30 seconds on each side, or until nicely coated. Let any excess mixture drip off the bread, then let sit.
Melt 1 tablespoon of the butter in a non-stick skillet set over medium heat and, in batches, fry each piece of eggy bread on both sides for 2 to 3 minutes until golden brown.
Work quickly and serve immediately with the Tomato and Coriander Chutney.
Tomato and Coriander Chutney
2 large tomatoes, roughly chopped
3 1/2 ounces freshly chopped cilantro
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 green chile
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lime juice
1 teaspoon superfine sugar
Place tomatoes, cilantro, garlic, green chile, and cumin seeds in a blender and blend to a fine paste — don’t be tempted to add any water.
Transfer to a small bowl and season with the lime juice, sugar, and a pinch of salt. Serve alongside any snack or starter. It will keep in the fridge for up to 3 days.