Mumbai’s Infamous Eggless Omelette

eggless omelette

if you ask a server for an eggless omelette anywhere in the world, there’s a good chance you’ll be laughed upon. But not in Bombay – Home of the eggless omelette. You’ll find this on the menu of Shetty South Indian restaurants in Bombay and at times in other cities in the western part of India, as Tomato Omelette. Most of these restaurants are vegetarian and do not have egg dishes of any kind.

Shetty is a Hindu surname, part of the Bunt community of Tullunadu, Karnataka. South Indian food is popular in Bombay and many of these restaurants are Shetty owned. Most of these restaurants serve classic tiffin dishes like idli, dosa, vada and fresh juices, tea and coffee as drinks. Many of them also serve mains, rice dishes and thali. Some of these Shetty-owned restaurants have the Tomato Omelette on the menu, but many don’t. Even if the dish is not on the menu, you can ask the server and he’ll serve it to you.

The Vegetarian Eggless Omelette

India has the maximum types of vegetarians and here’s my list of the 20 different types of vegetarians found in India. In India, an eggetarian is not a vegetarian, he or she is an eggitarian. Though there are some vegetarians who will eat egg in some form occasionally. But they are vegetarians and not eggetarians as they’ll do this occasionally and not regularly. I’ve not seen the vegetarian omelette in any restaurant in South India and this seems to be a Bombay invention. Bombay after all, is the land of street food innovation and you get anything from Chopsuey Dosa, Chocolate and Cheese Sandwich to Mexican Bhel.

Many of these innovations are largely demanded by and cater to the large Gujarati population of Bombay. The Bombay sambar that one gets in these Shetty restaurants is very different from the sambar one gets in Mangalore or even other parts of South India. It’s sweeter, like how Gujaratis eat their dal.

eggless omelette

The Taste

The eggless omelette is served with slices of white bread, butter and ketchup. The omelette is made from a batter of besan (gram flour). Chopped onion, tomato and spices are added to the mixture and this is cooked like a thick flatbread. But it’s not fully cooked and left just a little gooey in the centre, to give an impression that this an omelette. A skilfully made tomato omelette when had with a piece of bread, butter and some ketchup of top, does give a hint of having an omelette. Nowhere close to the version made with eggs, but it does come somewhat nearby to an omelette. You have it on it’s own, then it’s more like a besan chilla. But the combination with the white bread, butter and ketchup changes the dish completely.

It’s a fun dish and great to try out just for the sake of things. Unless of course, you’re a vegetarian and craving an omelette.

Happy hunting and chowder on!