Another Monday. It’s only 9 a.m. but the day already seems oddly long, perhaps because H. woke up four hours ago to catch a flight. He’s out of town for the day and although he’ll be back tonight and always works during the weekdays, today, strangely, it seems like he’s gone so far. I feel like I have all these hours stretching in front of me and I think what I will do is this:
organize my bookshelves by category
collect the artwork I would like to frame
clean our bedroom
walk in the park, when it becomes cool and dark
These piles of books, the red nail polish sitting on the TV speaker, H.’s papers, the lotions and hair clips and camera wires that clutter my bedside table, the honey jar and aromatherapy oils on the DVD shelf, the forgotten boxes of old gifts lying around, all of it will go today. I hope.
But first, before I start this sorting and throwing and arranging, let me tell you about Jaisinh mama‘s baked omelette, because, like the sun, it’s cheerful. And I need a bright spot on a day like this, a long, gray, spring-cleaning day. Also, we ate this omelette twice this past week (once for dinner and once for breakfast) and have decided that it’s the best. omelette. ever.
Jaisinh mama, my dad’s uncle, lives in Bombay but spends about half of every month in Mahabaleshwar. He’s mighty cool (keep in mind, he’s old- he’s my grandmother’s brother). He’s a talented gardener, painter, and cook; he reads a ton and takes three hour walks everyday; he listens to Indian classical music in the mornings and evenings and volunteers with the youth and farmers in Mahabaleshwar. His strawberries, cherry tomatoes and sun-dried tomatoes are known to be the best in Bombay. He even supplies sun-dried tomatoes to Bombay restaurants like Moshe. A wish: I want to be like him when I grow up.
Jaisinh mama’s baked omelette is quite famous, for an omelette. All of his friends and family have eaten it, and people discuss it, too, when out: “Jaisinh uncle’s omelette is really good, dude,” said one of H.’s friends. It’s reknowned enough that Upper Crust, India’s most well-known food magazine, wrote a piece on him and his omelette recipe. Whenever H. and I go to Mahabaleshwar we try to meet mama for a walk. If we’re lucky, he’ll invite us to stay for a baked omelette breakfast.
I don’t like regular omelettes, made in frying pans, because they are heavy. I feel like a lump after eating one. But this baked omelette- or baked egg dish, I should say, since omelettes are usually made with butter or oil in a pan, is fluffy, light on oil, and chock-full of vegetables. Each slice oozes with delicious bits of asparagus and pepper, juicy tomato, and smooth, salty cheese. You only use oil to sautee the veggies and brush the baking dish, and if you didn’t add any cheese, this omelette would be really healthy. But we love cheese and added a solid handful of creamy goat’s milk cheese cubes to ours.
We’ve made some changes to Mama’s orginal recipe* but this omelette is still so simple. Beat some eggs and mix them with chopped, sauteed veggies, cilantro and a small amount of soft, mushy rice. Mama adds the rice to his omelette to give it body while keeping it light and easy to digest. Pour the mixture in a baking dish, top with cheese and chilis and olives if you like, and bake for about 20 minutes, until the omelette is just set.
Jaisinh Mama’s Famous Baked Omelette
adapted from Jaisinh Mariwala
serves 2 as a main dish (although H. and I have unsually large appetites so maybe it could serve 3. It could definitely serve 4 as a side dish).
5 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup overcooked, mushy rice (boil rice or use day-old rice and then add 1/2-1 cup more water and let that boil away until the rice resembles porridge)
1 cup chopped vegetables of your preference, in 1/4 inch pieces (we used onions, scallions, cherry tomatoes, mushrooms, red and yellow bell peppers, asparagus, and both sun-dried and regular tomatoes)
1-2 cloves garlic, sliced
1-2 Tbsp. cilantro, chopped
1 handful of cubed cheese of your preference (we used goat’s milk cheese and it was perfect, creamy, and not too mild)
2 Tbsp. of olives
1-2 green chiles, sliced into thin rounds
1. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F, and lightly brush a round baking dish with olive oil.
2. In a skillet, pour a little oil and wait for it to heat up. Sautee your vegetables of choice- I usually start by sauteeing onions and garlic, then adding the peppers and asparagus, and finally, the mushrooms and tomatoes (but not the sundried tomatoes). You can add and subtract whichever ingredients you like or dislike; for example, you don’t need to use garlic, or mushrooms, although I think the omelette is infinitely more tasty because of them.
2. In a large bowl, combine the beaten eggs, sauteed veggies, chopped cilantro and mushy rice. Add salt and pepper and mix well.
3. Pour omelette mixture into baking dish. Top with cubed cheese, sliced olives, and green chiles.Bake for 15-20 minutes, until just set. Let cool for a couple minutes before serving slices with toast, jam, cheese, and mustard.