The recently viral and singularly repulsive Jeera soda Oreo omelette proves two things: Indian ingenuity and the work of an idle mind. But what goes into the making of a perfect omelette?
Cooking is not therapeutic. It’s a lot of toil. It demands a freakish sense of proportions, the ability to endure the humid blast of simmering in the very gravy you’re stirring, and faith that your intuition will sail you through the seetis. It’s an assembly of edibles tossed together in a composition that can be as devastating as a bad marriage if not tasted and tested for compatibility. Those who want to have their banana bread and Gram it too, have found this to be a novel way to transcend those dull WFH weekdays. Apart from lending an illusion of minor achievement, it has provided some with a sense of purpose. But once the initial fascination of playing with those kitchen tools wears off, there’s no shame in returning to the straight-of-the-box comfort of Maggi.
The recently viral and singularly repulsive video of the Jeera soda Oreo omelette from Kolkata proves two things: Indian ingenuity and the unbridled passion for horrid culinary experiments that an idle Indian routinely engages in. But whether you’re a masterchef or a breakfast bawarchi, the omelette unanimously wins the vote for touching the heart and the soul with its ability to deliver unmatched satisfaction. Packed with fluffy goodness, the breakfast staple has also been a popular tiffin option, tucked within slices of bread, butter and ketchup. Whether it is plain cheese, the desi version with chopped onions, tomatoes and a sprinkle of coriander or even the Spanish variant with sliced potatoes, there is an omelette for every person and every occasion.
For the love of omelettes
Even those who restrict their kitchen visits to a weekly affair are conversant with the many iterations of the humble yet gratifying omelette. The golden goodness of eggs splayed over buttery toast can trigger a degree of comfort that few breakfast staples can only hope to achieve. It’s fairly well known that the folds on a chef’s hat denote the number of ways they can cook an egg. This may surprise some who might feel that cracking open an egg on a pan could hardly be considered a metric for measuring culinary excellence. But preparing an omelette to absolute perfection is a factor of discipline, dedication and decisive destiny. From how long you blend the eggs before they are deposited into the pan to the precise quantity of salt and pepper, every step is decisive. Not to mention the engineered effort to scrape the remains from that once non-stick pan if you let it on for longer than acceptable. But there are some who’ve risen the ranks of omelettedom. They are the ones who have achieved that perfect texture, colour and flavour, following multiple attempts where they’ve gotten away with egg on their face, metaphorically speaking. Like it too runny or fancy a bite that affords a meaty consistency? There’s always an egg for the job; you just need to know how to treat and temper it.
The egg came first
It’s hardly surprising that omelettes find their origins in France and the first documented evidence of their existence can be found in a recipe published in the Cuisine Bourgeoisie, a publication that dates back to the 17th Century. You have to give it to the French to create a culinary marvel out of something as basic as eggs. But some historians feel that the omelette derived its recipe from the Iranian kookoo sabzi, a mix of greens held together by an egg, much like a frittata.
Legend has it that Napoleon Bonaparte sampled his first omelette in a small town called Bessières in France. It was served to him by a modest innkeeper, and the French General was so impressed that he ordered for all the eggs available in that town to be used to create a giant omelette to be devoured by his troops the following day. To this day, the quaint French town celebrates this historic event by preparing a giant omelette to be consumed by the entire town.
Closer to home, the Persian Khagina (eggs are called ‘khaag’ in Persian), which found its way to India during the Mughal occupation, suggests how omelettes became a breakfast staple in India. The dish comprising eggs beaten with various herbs and onions were relished by the Mughal emperors and soon popularised across the country.
You must be yolking
The Jeera Soda and Oreo omelette, in fact, isn’t the first bizarre interpretation of the egg dish. Delhi’s Pani Wala Omelette (made without oil or butter), the Royal Mughlai Omelette of Rajkot (which includes a Mughlai gravy and boiled egg slices), the Lays Omelette (pouring beaten eggs into a bag of potato chips) and Surat’s Fanta Omelette (which includes the fizzy orange drink) are some such experiments which have been received with a mix of shock and delight. For those who prefer some kitchen jugaad, YouTube also offers videos that explain how omelettes can be fried over an iron press. But if you must attempt such unspeakable acts to torment an egg, don’t call it an omelette.
Whipped to perfection
From free-range to cage-free, the variety of eggs that one can stock up today can be overwhelming. But when it comes to what you must or can drop into your omelette, personal preferences come into play. From bacon bits, chives, and parsley to tarragon, aubergine or mushrooms, the world is your canvas when it comes to what you want to stuff in your omelette.
You may scour the internet for omelette recipes to excavate the most bizarre ingredients and flipping styles to derive bespoke omelettes catering to specific tastes and preferences. But if you’re in for the real deal, a few come close to the OG classic French omelette. The recipe may have minor variations, depending on the source. But there’s one step that just cannot be substituted or avoided: whisking the eggs rigourously till the yolk and albumin combine uniformly to acquire a pale yet distinct yellow complexion and a pillowy consistency. And it is this step that will essentially define its texture and taste and will elevate it from every other omelette.
image credits: Freepik
Most recipes also suggest that the pan be coated with butter evenly before the egg mixture is dropped over it. We recommend rationing the butter depending on your LDL levels but don’t be excessively parsimonious. A generous tablespoon or two should do the job for a double-egg production. Once poured into the skillet, let it spread across its circumference and flip it before it browns. Like life, it’s difficult to precisely arrive at when it’s time to turn over. Sometimes, a runny top can have a silkenly smooth base but if you let it stay for too long, you will end up with a leathery mess. The perfect omelette, above all, calls for superhuman instinct.