The inimitable Cyrus Todiwala OBE, DL, is one of the UK’s foremost Indian chefs. Frequently featured on TV, he has three restaurants and has written numerous cookery books. His latest one is Simple Spice Vegetarian, in which this spice master conjures up a fabulous array of recipes using just 10 of his favourite, readily available spices. So, no need to make a special foray to the nearest Indian supermarket, fun as that usually is!
Of course, Indian food already offers a huge choice of naturally vegetarian and vegan fare; I know that I have often finished a meal at one of our local curry houses and wished I’d just ordered side dishes, as they were my favourite part of the meal. Cyrus has sprinkled his spice magic on a range of simple recipes, and by adding a few simple extra ingredients lifting the dishes to a new stratosphere. The book has recipes for salads, soups, easy lunches and snacks, pulses, desserts and, of course, main courses. But it is the breakfast and brunch section that captured my attention; he puts a new slant on one of the best meals of the day (especially at the weekend) and it makes a great change from the Middle Eastern influences we see so often or the ubiquitous avocado on toast. Cyrus explains the recipe methods well, and the photography is mouth-watering.
Simple Spice Vegetarian by Cyrus Todiwala, publishing with Mitchell Beazley on 5March, £20 www.octopusbooks.co.uk
Here are a couple of brunch recipes that I thought you would like to try. But I’d urge you to add this book to your cookbook collection.
Bombay-style masala French toast Makes 6
Bombay is notorious for copying different styles from various regions of the world and then adapting them to suit its palate. Eating sandwiches on the pavements of Bombay is part and parcel of our city’s culture, and the Bombay sandwich is well known among Indians. Anyway, here goes, and my sincere apologies if any French people cringe at the thought of this.
Onion 1, very finely chopped
Plum tomato 1, very finely chopped
Fresh green chillies 2–3 finger type, finely chopped
Fresh coriander leaves 2 tablespoons, finely chopped, plus extra to serve
Ground turmeric 1/4 teaspoon
Red chilli powder ½ teaspoon
Cumin seeds ½ teaspoon, finely crushed
Single cream or full-fat milk 100ml (3½fl oz)
Oil 2 tablespoons
Butter 3–4 tablespoons
Bread 6 thick slices
Cheese 100g (3½oz), finely grated
Freshly ground black pepper
½ teaspoon Salt
1. Preheat the oven to 140°C/275°F/Gas Mark 1.
2. Beat the eggs in a bowl and add in all the ingredients except for the oil, butter, bread and cheese. Stir until well combined.
3. Heat a non-stick frying pan and add a little less than a teaspoon of the oil and some butter and let the two melt. When the butter bubbles and heats up, stir the eggs, take a slice of the bread and dip the whole slice into the egg mixture.
4. Remove from the egg mixture and place the slice in the frying pan. Let cook until lightly browned, about 3–4 minutes, then flip over and cook until the other side is brown. If not enough of the other ingredients in the egg mixture has stuck to the slice, spoon some onto the cooked
side and flip to cook again. Once cooked, place each slice on a baking tray and repeat with the remaining slices of bread, oil and butter.
5. Once all six slices are done, sprinkle the cheese over the top and place in the oven until the cheese has melted, about 4–5 minutes.
6. Serve hot with some tomato ketchup and chilli sauce.
Note: Cut these into squares and serve as a canapé. You can make them in advance and store in a container in the fridge for up to 2 days. Reheat in the oven before serving.
Indian fried egg toast Serves 2 as a snack
I had to put this recipe in, even though mine varies from the original, created by a chef named Kejriwal. It is more or less a variation of Bombay’s famous Chilli Cheese Toast and is sold in more places now than the creator could ever have envisaged. You will notice that it is served with ketchup. Most Indians love to be served ketchup with omelettes and other kinds of egg preparations, including fried eggs. Don’t ask me where that love came from, but it’s there.
Salted butter 1 teaspoon, plus 1 heaped tablespoon for the toast
Onion 1 small, finely chopped
Bread 2 thick slices
Mature Cheddar 150g (5½oz), grated
Hot English mustard 2 teaspoons
Fresh coriander leaves 1–2 tablespoons, chopped
Fresh green chillies 1–2 finger type, finely chopped
Oil 1 tablespoon
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Tomato ketchup to serve (optional)
1. Heat the butter in a non-stick frying pan over medium heat. Once the butter has melted, add the onion and sauté until soft, about 3–4 minutes, then set aside to cool.
2. Toast the slices of bread lightly, spread with some butter and place on a small baking tray.
3. In a bowl, mix together the cooled onion, cheese, mustard, coriander, green chilli and one of the eggs. Blend together well.
4. Spread this cheese mixture on top of each slice of toast and grill under medium heat for 4–5 minutes, or until set and bubbling.
5. Meanwhile, wipe the non-stick frying pan clean, add the oil and heat until nearly smoking.
Fry the remaining eggs for a couple of minutes, so that the white is set and there is still a lovely runny yolk.
6 As soon as the toasts are grilled, transfer to two plates, top with an egg, season and serve with ketchup, if desired.