Most Indians are strict vegetarians, which also
means they don’t eat eggs.
But a colonial habit, that of omelettes for breakfast, has become a lasting tradition in one city in Rajasthan – these days served up with a quirky twist.
Jasvinder Seghal meets one of the city’s famous vendors.
A cheese butter omelette is being cooked at Sanjay’s omelette stall in this busy market in Jaipur.
Fifty three-year-old Sanjay Sharma is the owner and chef. He’s been selling these treats for more than thirty years now.
“In the past I used to sell about 30 omelettes a day, but things have changed and people have developed a taste for them,” says Sanjay.
“In the winter I now use about 1700 eggs every day to prepare different omelettes. Besides this stall, I have also opened an omelette restaurant called Egg-dee.”
Sanjay says it was during the days of colonial rule that omelettes first started to be eaten in India.
“During colonial rule breakfast came into existence and omelettes were an integral part of it. It’s a specialty that can be prepared within two minutes; it’s very nutritious, healthy and easy to cook,” Sanjay explains.
In India a typical breakfast is usually parantha, or roti, flatbreads along with other vegetarian dishes.
Thirty nine-year-old interior
decorator Amit Soral is a loyal customer at Sanjay’s stall.
His family is vegetarian and doesn’t eat eggs, but Amit loves them.
He comes here every day to enjoy his favorite cuisine.
“I have been coming here for the last 25 years. My mother doesn’t cook eggs so my father used to bring me here,” confesses Soral.
“I come here every day, I’m like a child who is fascinated by chocolate; I am thrilled by the omelette. Colonial rule may be termed ‘bad’ but it gave us many good things too and omelettes are certainly part of that. Indians are enjoying them still.”
Here in India omelettes have been adapted to local tastes – filled with chopped onions, green chilies and coriander.
Saurabh Sharma is a well-known Indian historian who has studied traditional Indian foods.
He says that before British rule omelettes were never part of the early Indus civilization.
“Tea and omelettes were introduced during colonial rule, introduced by western companies invading India. As the officers of these companies had omelettes for breakfast, slowly it became part of Indian cuisine.”
Sharma continues on the origins of the omelette,
“It is assumed that in ancient times omelettes were prepared by the Romans but history books show that this was first cooked in France. In my opinion Bolestin was the first chef who prepared it. In 1603 he shifted from France to Britain and so did the popularity of omelette.”
Sanjay cooks about 150 different types of omelettes but today he is busy experimenting with a new recipe.
“My specialty is the Obama omelette, which is prepared with brown bread. It resembles Obama’s hairstyle. A white house of cheese is also incorporated in it. Now I am working on the Hillary omelette, which will be launched very soon,” Sanjay says.
Fashion designer Radhika Sharma is a regular customer at Sanjay’s.
“They are very unique which brings me daily over here,” says Radhika.
“This we can’t get anywhere else. It’s just the taste. ”
Eggs are today are now an integral part of Indian society.