Friday 10 June 2011

This was my favourite breakfast as a kid. And my mum's too, as it was fast, simple and packed full of flavour. I think mum got the recipe from one of my uncles, and over time she modified it, so it suited our taste.

For a short and easy ingredient list, this salad packed quite the punch. I remembered it some time ago, when I was making the Italian bread salad, Panzanella. I figured that while mum made this as breakfast, there was no reason why I couldn't make it as a light lunch or supper. With the weather being beautifully nice and sunny now, I hate spending more time in the kitchen than I have to. So this dish ticked all the boxes for me. It used storecupboard ingredients, is unusual enough for company, and is so tasty!

The flavour here, as with the Panzanella, is predominantly tomatoey, but the similarity stops there. This salad is smoky with curry leaves, and mustard seeds, has a hint of sweetness from the tomatoes and sugar, and a wow! spicy moment that comes from biting into a whole peppercorn, and the bread just calms everything else down.

I never cease to be amazed at the flavour that comes out of a dish that is simplicity itself to put together. As my mum says, its fast enough that she got to work on time, hearty enough to keep us filled until lunch, and fussy enough so everyone felt looked after. These were the days when the women of the family had to make sure everyone was fed and watered, and then rush off to work outside the house, We are a lucky generation, indeed, that we had such wonderful role models for mothers and aunts. All I say is, result...

(Printable Recipe)

1 teaspoon mustard seeds
1 teaspoon cleaned urad dal (black gram)
1/2 tsp whole peppercorns
2 sprigs curry leaves
1/2 onion, chopped
2 juicy tomatoes, chopped
1/2 tsp salt
1 tbsp sugar
1½ tbsp oil or ghee
1/2 a loaf of bread, cut or torn into medium sized cubes.


In a wide pot or wok, heat the oil or ghee, then add the mustard seeds, urad dal, whole peppercorns and curry leaves. Fry till the mustard seeds start to splutter.

Add the chopped onions, then fry for 2 - 3 minutes, until the onions are soft, and lose their raw smell.

Add the tomatoes, sugar and salt, and cook for another 2 - 3 minutes. The tomatoes should just start breaking down a little bit. Take the pot off the heat and let cool for a minute or so.

Add the bread chunks to the onion/ tomato mixture and mix well, coating chunks of bread with the spicy, tomatoey mixture.

Serve warm or cold.


  1. Wow, I have never had anything quite like this before Michelle, although I think I would prefer it for lunch. I am not great in the morning!

  2. What a wonderful spicy salad ... love the spicy twist on panzanella!
    A question ... I have no experience with curry leaves. Do you buy them dry like bay leaf?

    I'd love to try making this when our tomatoes start coming in from the backyard garden! Can just imagine that warm tomato sweetness with all the spice!

  3. I loved the Mohini Vilas version. Never been able to recreate it tho :( will try out your version once I have access to my own kitchen again :)

  4. Jac, try it, its lovely. If you take the peppercorns out its also Cooper friendly... that's what I did for Aditi. Oh, and I know what you mean about mornings, which is why this is a lunch/ supper dish for us too :-)

    Susan, thanks. I am waiting for our tomatoes to come out too, we've planted quite a few this year. About curry leaves, well, you can buy them fresh from any Indian/ ethnic grocer, and they freeze really well. I usually buy a big bag, and they last me for months. You just toss them in straight from the freezer, just like you would with the fresh ones. You can also get dried curry leaves, but they won't work as well for this dish, or for others thta call for fresh, as it relies on them for the flavour. Normally Indians tend to use dried curry leaves for spice mixes, rather than garnishing. Let me know if you need any more info, and I'll be happy to help out :-)

    Kim, yes, that was pretty good too. I miss Mohini Vilas, their buns were fantastic, and do you remember our New Year/ Christmas breakfasts there?

  5. Thanks for giving step by step by method of Bread Masala recipe and looking so yummy. Am preparing new Bread Chivda recipe and simple to make and homemade recipe.


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