An ode to the Humble Omelette.

In Culture, Food, World Cuisine on January 13, 2013 at 10:51 am

omelette 002.NEF

As far as I can remember, I have loved eggs. I can have it at any time of the day and when the rest of the food on my plate looks unappetising and bland, an omelette is all I need to cheer me up and feel good again. Hardly a surprise that this was the first thing I learnt how to cook as a teenager.

Much as food is about personal taste, a lot of it is also about what we are used to and familiar with. I remember C telling me about one of his early experiences of dining at an Indian friend’s house during his early visits to the country. Amongst other stuff, he was served an omelette. C was quite happy at having at least one non-spicy option on his plate for he was quite tired by then of having only food that seemed to be made essentially of spices and some other indistinguishable stuff. Today he proudly has pork curry with Raja Mircha or Bhut Jolokia (considered at one time the hottest chili in the world) but then he has come a long way since then 😉

In India, one of the most popular ways of making an omelette is to beat the eggs with chopped onions, salt, some may add some tomatoes and most importantly chopped green chilli peppers. An omelette without these green crackers is not worth its while.

Indian Omelette

C, of course, completely oblivious to this, bit into his omelette with gusto trying to drown out the onslaught of spices in his mouth and found to his horror that it had just gotten worse! With tears streaming down his face, and unable to speak at having been stabbed in the back by someone he considered his friend, he reached for the jar of water. His host of course immediately concluded by C’s speechlessness that C was touched beyond measure at having being invited and having such a wonderful spread in front of him 😉

He might be having Raja Mircha today, but he can’t stop shaking his head at the idea of chillies in an omelette.

But then, an omelette is in some ways so universal. Its like your morning cup of coffee/tea. You have your habits and any variations just makes the variation an oddity that you prefer calling by another name rather than what you are used to. And so, tea with milk and spices becomes chai, coffee with milk café latté and an omelette with chillis……a masala omelette 😉

The word omelette is French in origin and dating back to the mid-16th century and it is possible that it was in France that the recipe  originated but I am really not sure. It is attributed to the word alumete which comes from alumele which is French for a knife blade, the idea being that an omelette is as flat as a knife blade. The other story is that a Spanish king travelling in France was offered an omelette by a poor man and remarking on the agility of the man in making his food, exclaimed, “Quel homme lest!” meaning “What an agile man!”, thus giving rise to the word omelette from “homme lest”. Which version you want to believe is up to you 🙂

A portion of Spanish tortilla. Thickness and t...
Spanish Omelette. Photo credit: Wikipedia

In any case, since then, it has spread widely across the world and everyone has their own ways of making it, be it the Iranian Khagine made with sugar, the Greek Omeleta cooked with leftovers or vegetables, the Japanese Tamagoyaki with soya sauce and fish flakes (bonito) or the more well-known Spanish tortilla de patatas cooked with potatoes.

One of my favourite recipes however, is the Parsi version that I had once read in a magazine.

You beat the egg (s) with a fork and add a clove of crushed garlic in it (I usually add it minced instead of crushed but that is a choice), along with a bit of salt and 2-3 teaspoons of water. Next, you heat the skillet and add some butter and a bit of oil so that your butter does not burn. Once hot, pour the egg into the skillet, folding in the edges continuously towards the middle so that the raw part of the egg keeps overflowing towards the edges and getting cooked in its turn.

The result with the taste of egg laced with garlic and butter is just awesome!

I have tried omelette with all sorts of toppings/fillings but at the end of the day, the omelette that I consider comfort food comes with no frills attached.

English: An omelette

An omelette (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

  1. […] An ode to the Humble Omelette. (1garamchai.wordpress.com) […]

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