Mumbai Pain Perdu

A lovely, quick, simple little breakfast, offering some subtle spice and veg to bring you round to the morning. After yoga, before the first coffee of the day, with a spread of the weekend rags or just propping up your eyelids before the commute. Put down the box of cereal or those ridiculous dog biscuits (with their sugar, cane sugar, invert sugar syrup on the same ingredient list) and take the ten minutes required to breakfast properly. We find that a glass of warm water with a squeeze of lime first thing followed by a light-ish breakfast incorporating a little warming spice, be it cinnamon or ginger in your pancakes, waffles or porridge, or nutmeg and sumac on your Turkish spinach and eggs, is a great route to getting your digestion started. Here it is also the nutrition that we often seem reluctant to include in our first meal of the day – namely the inclusion of veg, the satisfaction in not wasting it. For me breakfast must be that happy, balanced, nourishing boost and endorphin kick required for a springy step into a busy day. These are quantities for one breakfast serving, simply double for two and double again for four mouths. Convenience food again (and inconveniently I know) will never do it. But a good, cheap and honest Indian breakfast really does.


2 fresh, organic eggs (freshness is very important when poaching eggs)
1 tbsp of coconut oil
A slice or two of good 'honest' bread – sourdough is best (we used a homemade, seed rich, wholemeal spelt and rye version)
1 mild green chilli finely chopped and seeds removed
A sprinkling of nigella seeds
A pinch of ground cinnamon
A pinch of paprika
A pinch of ground ginger
A few fine slices of red onion
1 seasonal baby plum or cherry tomato finely cubed
1 tsp ground turmeric
A pinch of saffron
A splash of cider vinegar
Sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Fresh coriander leaves and extra virgin olive oil to dress


  • 1 Rub a little coconut oil on the inside of a ladle and place it into a saucepan. Cover with water, add your turmeric and saffron and put on the heat to boil
  • 2 For the Mumbai toast warm a skillet or frying pan on a low heat. Beat an egg in a bowl and add your cinnamon, ginger and paprika
  • 3 Add the coconut oil to your pan and, when melted add the nigella seeds
  • 4 After 30 seconds or so, dip both sides of your bread into the egg and spices until well permeated and drop into the pan
  • 5 On the upturned side arrange your onion, chilli and tomato and pour over any remaining egg from the bowl. When the bottom is well coloured, turn carefully and cook the top similarly. Remove to a plate
  • 6 When your saucepan has reached a rolling boil, reduce the heat to minimum. Add a splash of cider vinegar into the bowl of the ladle and crack in your remaining egg, taking care not to break the yolk or white. Holding it in the ladle allows you to lift it out of the water to check the cooking of the yolk and ensure that perfect runny one, as well as cradling your egg and keeping the whites from wandering
  • 7 When your poached egg is perfectly cooked, beautifully coloured and delicately infused with turmeric and saffron, spoon it from the ladle onto your Mumbai toast
  • 8 Dress with a pinch of sea salt, a good grind of black pepper, a sprinkling of really good olive oil and a scattering of fresh coriander leaves