Dr. S.K. Joishy is Special to usindiamonitor. He is in fact Father to usindiamonitor. This is his first-ever guest post on this site. Last week usindiamonitor posted a food-oriented article and Food Ranger video link, focused on India and eggs. The below was written in response by Dr. S.K. Joishy. With Easter and the egg hunts just around the corner the timing is perfect.
Here is the story behind my making the omelet:
Having been born in a Brahmin family, my mom not cooking even onion and garlic, the egg was considered highly untouchable in our household while we were growing up.
When I was about 12 years old in Coimbatore, a Konkani friend of my father visited us.
He saw me for what I obviously was: a poorly nourished, sickly asthmatic child. He immediately advised my father that I should take one raw egg, mix it in milk, and drink that concoction daily. I came to know the egg by its unpleasant sounding Konkani name, thanthe. I remember the first egg I ever bought in the Coimbatore roadside shop where I used to buy bananas.
I did not know how to pick a good egg (there was no Google back then). But I knew how to pick a good coconut: it needed to be heavy, with a specific tapping sound. I used the same technique to pick a good egg. In fact it always worked. Never had a rotten egg.
My mom never let me take the egg inside the house. So, I had to take the milk in a special glass meant for the egg only, go outside the house, break the egg in in the milk, mix with a spoon meant for this purpose only. Drinking this mixture was a torture, and not just because of the Brahmin household protocols.
I will curse the guy even today, who advised me to drink raw eggs mixed with milk back in the 1950s. It smells terrible, tastes terrible and was nauseating to me every time. I gave up soon. My father did not know about it, and no one supervised me in making and taking the concoction.
Then how did I learn to make the omelet ?
In Coimbatore I used to eat at my close friend Ragbab’s place. Once their cook, a Konkani lady, asked me to try her omelet. It tasted good, no eggy smell, made in the Indian way. After that I started eating omelets in restaurants, but rarely. They were a staple of many cheap eateries in South Asia, and still are.
When I came to the United States in 1970, a senior resident in the dorm I stayed in made omelets and served a couple of us- for a price. Then I started cooking them myself, making omelets his way with onions and chillies only. Then I experimented further by adding ginger and cilantro.
Now, finally revealed for the first time ever in writing, in the history of mankind, are the secrets of the Joishy omelet:
- Never make more than two egg omelets each time.
- It is not the ingredients, but the juices of the ingredients, you have to infuse into the omelet.
How do you do that?
- Ingredients: 1/2 small onion, this is a large portion but gives bulk to the omelet; one small green chili, 1/4″ ginger, fistful of cilantro leaves, salt, two large eggs, and coconut oil.
Adding any other ingredient or subtracting any of the above is not the original Joishy omelet.
- Chop onion, green chili, ginger and cilantro to the finest of bits as possible (whisper thin!)
- Transfer to a large cup and add salt to taste (less than 1/5 teaspoon)
- Careful with that salt: a salty omelet is no omelet.
- Don’t add ingredients to the eggs but add eggs to these ingredients.
- Do not add sauted ingredients.
**The best way to get all the juices of the ingredients to the eggs is to use a long and sharp fork to beat the eggs together almost to a homogeneous mixture.
- Use a stainless steel pan (preferred) or a Teflon pan. Use any vegetable oil. My preference is coconut oil. Great aroma and taste, and coconut oil is one of the healthier ones you can find.
- Next secret is the temperature of the frying pan, medium heat but always test a drop of the mixture on the pan that should immediately just sizzle.
- Rapid pour on the pan and a quick even spread with a flat ladle. Omelet will never cook well if the center is gooey.
- Fry only till the bottom gets light brown and crusty.
- After releasing the edges of the omelet from the pan quickly flip the omelet as a whole with a fast move of the wrist.
- Less time to fry the flipped surface now.
- Flip and serve on a plate when the flipped surface just begins to turn crispy. I’d recommend serving right away.
All these steps are critical to make sure the omelet never breaks and center is never gooey.
There are many ways to eat an omelet :
- Eat straight on its own or with black pepper powder
- Eat with an artisan bread
- Make a sandwich
- Make a wrap with dosa or chapathi
- Eat with Dalithoi rice or sambar rice
- Eating with the rasam rice is the best.
- Eat with any sauce but Sriracha is great.
- Eat with any Indian pickle.
- Eat with guacamole.
Good luck !
Tom Coleman, a dear friend of Amma and I, passed away recently. [[ Read his obituary here. Tom was interesting man. ]]
He was instrumental in exhibiting my Chinese brush paintings at Indiana University in Bloomington.
Interestingly, he was known among us friends for cooking a good western omelet. We called it the “Tomelet”!