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The Story and Recipe of Indo-French Toast

Updated: Jul 3

Mustard Oil
The Story and Recipe of Indo-French Toast

There’s nothing French about the preparation that we refer to as French Toast. It gets its name from the chef who created it in 1724 – Joseph French. However, there are similar recipes that go back much further in time. A collection of Latin recipes called Apicius was compiled sometime in the 1st Century CE and it refers to a similar dish called Aliter Dulcia made using bread, milk and eggs. Food historians have also found references to another similar preparation dating back to the early part of the 5th Century CE in the form of a Roman dish called Pan Dulcis.

And yes – the French also had a similar dish called Pain Perdu, which translates rather curiously as “Lost Bread”… until one understands the story behind the name. In the 15th Century CE, France was facing severe food shortages. The people couldn’t afford to throw any food away – even stale bread that had turned hard and dry. Housewives would use milk and eggs to soften the bread and then fry it. The “lost” bread was thus recovered and consumed – hence the name: Pain Perdu.

In post-Independence India, in some cities like Delhi, Lucknow and Calcutta one could find an intriguing “Indianized” version of French Toast. In today’s post we will share a recipe for one such indigenous version that used to be a favourite breakfast dish and evening snack in some eateries located in Delhi’s Connaught Place. The menu at these eateries called the dish “French Toast” – but we think it would be far more appropriate to call it Indo-French Toast.

The ingredients that you will need are simple and few.

Ingredients for French Toast

  1. Eggs: 4

  2. Bread: 8 slices

  3. Milk: 500 millilitres

  4. P Mark Mustard Oil: 4 tablespoons

  5. Onion: 1, medium sized

  6. Green Chilli: 2

  7. Cinnamon: A one-inch stick

  8. Sugar: 2 teaspoons

  9. Pepper: One large pinch

  10. Salt: to taste

The quantities mentioned above are for serving four persons with two slices each. Adjust the quantities proportionately to suit the number of servings you require.

And even though there is thankfully no shortage of bread like in 15th Century France, somehow this dish comes out better if the bread you use is a couple of days old. Also, it’s better to use slightly thick slices of bread instead of thin ones.

In case the eggs you are using are small in size, increase the number from four eggs to six.

Preparation for French Toast

Finely chop the onion.

Finely chop the green chilli.

Coarsely grind the cinnamon.

Method for French Toast

In a mixing bowl break and beat the eggs to a smooth consistency. Next, add the milk, sugar, cinnamon, salt and pepper. Whisk the mixture and then add the onion and green chillies. Mix well.

Place each slice of bread in the egg mixture ensuring that the slice gets thoroughly coated and making sure that the mixture soaks into the bread slice.

Heat the Mustard Oil in a frying pan on a Medium flame. When the oil reaches its smoking point and starts emitting whiffs of aromatic white smoke, reduce the flame to Low.

Now fry each egg mixture-coated slice of bread, one at a time. Keep turning the slice over to ensure even frying on both sides. When the slice takes on a rich medium brown colour, remove it from the frying pan. Fry the remaining seven slices in the same way.

Your Indo-French Toast is now ready. Serve it hot. A steaming cup of tea or coffee alongside this dish is a great way to start a lazy Sunday morning… or to bring the curtain down on a busy day with an exciting snack to nibble on at teatime.

You can find more recipes at :

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