Healthy Eating: Indian Style Omelette, a Comfort Dish from My Childhood

A new book publication is always a hectic affair, and since the birth of Before We Visit the Goddess, things have been exciting but crazy. I’ve been rushing around on book tour, eating whatever I can grab on the run. So now that I am home for a few days, I thought I would make something healthy for myself and Murthy for our lunch.

I decided on an Indian style omelette, because it is tasty, easy to make, quick, healthy and low-carb. It's also a comfort-food out of my childhood. My mother used to make omelettes spiced with onions and chilies to be served with khichuri, a rice-and-lentil dish, on rainy days. We were not rich; she probably chose to make this meal because it was an easy and inexpensive way for her to get her family some protein. Still, I have many happy memories associated with omelettes.

I started by chopping up one red onion and a jalapeno pepper, because I like my omelette spicy. I chopped up an inch of ginger, one green bell pepper, and one red bell pepper. You can add garlic, also – I just wasn’t in the mood for any. I sautéed all this in 1 tablespoon olive oil in a nonstick pan. I chopped some cilantro leaves and kept them aside. I used 1/4 cup, but you can adjust for taste. I added a little salt into the vegetables.

I beat up four large eggs, adding 1 tablespoon of water because I don’t like my egg mixture too thick. (I only use cage free eggs nowadays because I feel it’s more humane. I use eggs from pasture roaming hens when I can find them.) I added salt and pepper to taste.

I sprayed a non-stick skillet with olive oil spray, added the egg mixture, lowered the temperature to 3, and allowed the eggs to solidify without browning at the bottom. Once they were semisolid I lowered the temperature further (I don’t like crisped omelette!), added the sautéed veggies onto one half and sprinkled the whole thing with shredded cheese – shredded sharp cheddar works really well for me, but mozzarella is good, too. I topped the cheese with chopped cilantro and folded the omelette in half. I cut it into two pieces-- and lunch was ready!

I feel an omelette is a full meal in itself, so that was a good lunch for me. Murthy ate his with brown bread, and that, too, is a good way to eat omelettes!

 What is a favorite comfort dish for you out of your childhood? I'd love to know. 


Yogurt Rice, an Easy, Healthy Indian Comfort Food

Although my husband Murthy and I are both Indian, I come from Bengal and he from the state of Andhra Pradesh, and our cuisines are different in many ways. Marriage to him, in fact, has made me realize how diverse the culture of India is, a fact that I’ve tried to explore in novels such as One Amazing Thing and Oleander Girl.

Over the years, I’ve learned to cook several of the comfort dishes that put a smile on Murthy’s face. Today I made yogurt (curd) rice, South Indian style.


Friends who saw the photo I posted on my Facebook page wanted the recipe, so here it is.

As with most of my cooking, it’s simple and quick. (Life is just too short--I'm prepared to spend only so much of it cooking!) I use leftover rice, but you can also make fresh rice and spread it out to cool. If you want to experiment, you can use brown rice or quinoa (but Murthy, who is a purist in such matters, strongly objects to such substitutions!)

Preparation time: 20 minutes.


1 cup cooked rice, cooled

1 cup yogurt, or a yogurt-buttermilk mix

1 T vegetable oil

Salt to taste

Frying spices: 1 tsp black mustard seed, 1 tsp cumin seed (optional), 2 whole red chilies, 1 tsp split urad dal (black lentil), 10-15 fresh or dried curry leaves. (I like lots of curry leaves--you might want less than this).

1 inch chopped ginger, 1/2 chopped green chili (optional)


1. Mix the rice and yogurt together in a big bowl. If you want the consistency softer, add more yogurt or buttermilk.

2. Add the chopped ginger and chilies into the rice mix. Mix in well.

3. In a small pan, heat the oil and add the mustard seed. When it crackles, add the cumin seed and urad dal. As they brown, add the red chilies and curry leaf. Take off the fire once the chilies turn dark. Pour onto the rice mixture and stir well. If you like, you can cover and cool it for 30 minutes in the refrigerator before serving.

Note: Some people like to add chopped coriander leaf (cilantro). Some people like to add chopped cucumber, chopped green mango or chopped grapes. I sometimes mix in a little lemon juice to add a tang.

Enjoy—and write to me about some of your favorite comfort foods.