Tamil Christians most often set the date for their weddings either during the Christmas holidays or during the summer holidays. I got married on December 22dnd, and in January, my mother-in-law decided that we should go on a picnic before I had to report for work. She chose to make mince on toast for our picnic lunch. I remember her being absolutely gleeful to hear that her daughter-in-law, a lecturer in Foods and Nutrition, had not heard of this recipe at all.
The preparation started with the cook being dispatched to the market early in the morning to buy minced mutton and bread. The cooking went on for several hours with my mother-in-law issuing contradictory instructions to the harassed cook. I joined her in the kitchen intending to help, but soon fled to take refuge in my husband’s company who, being very familiar with his mother’s approach to the culinary arts, had expected me to join him even earlier 🙂 We finally set off and travelled about 15 kilometres from Egmore to Gandhi Mandapam in Adyar. We did the journey in our 1949 Triumph Renown which was very carefully maintained by my husband and therefore travelled at a very slow pace to avoid any possibility of damage. In 1970 there was not a soul at Gandhi Mandapam and we could sit on the grass and have our lunch, which turned out to be our first and the last picnic. The date was January 3, 1970, exactly 46 years ago!
Later on, I discovered the recipe in my mother’s book and realised why I had not heard about it. My mother being allergic to egg had never made it but written it down under the title ‘Rottiyil Karivaithu Porikkum Vitham’ (the method of frying mince on bread).
It is ideal for packed lunches. It can be made even a few days before and stored in the refrigerator. It can be used to add good quality protein in children’s lunchboxes. While it takes a bit of time to prepare, it is technically very simple.
- 500 g Beef or Mutton mince
For the masala
- 4 Green Chillies, deseeded
- 3 cms piece Ginger, grated
- 4 cloves Garlic, diced
- 10 Shallots (sambar onions), sliced
- ¼ tsp Turmeric Powder
- 2 tsp Coriander Powder
- 1 tsp Sombu/Aniseed Powder
- 1 ½ tsp Salt, or to taste
- 1 Onion, diced
- 2 T Vegetable Oil
For the toast
- 1 family pack or 2 regular loaves White Bread
- 3 or 4 Eggs (depending on size)
- ½ tsp Pepper Powder
- ½ tsp Salt, or to taste
- Ghee (Clarified Butter) for frying
- Grind together all the ingredients listed under masala in a mixie or blender.
- Blend the mince with the ground masala and pressure cook for 20 minutes. Cool.
- Drain the stock and freeze for future use.
- Heat oil in a kadai or frying pan and fry the onion.
- When the onion becomes translucent, add the mince, mix, and cook till the mince is dry. Cool.
- Beat the eggs lightly with the pepper and salt.
- On each bread slice, place 2 T of the mince, spread lightly, and set aside.
- Heat a non-stick dosai griddle or tava. Dot it with ghee. Place three bread slices with mince. Lower heat.
- Pour a tablespoon of the beaten egg over the mince to cover it, and allow 30 seconds for the egg to get cooked.
- Pour ¼ tsp ghee over each slice. Turn it over. The bread should have a toasted appearance. If not, wait for 30 seconds, turn again, and leave for another 5 seconds for it to brown properly. Remove and serve.
- If you do not use a non-stick pan, the toast will require a larger quantity of ghee.
- The chillies are deseeded as otherwise the preparation will be very hot. With deseeded chillies it has a rather mild flavour.