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...
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.