Savory, crispy French toast. Salty, with a heavy kick of black pepper. This was one of my favorite Sunday breakfasts growing up, the smell of the toasts frying up a scent memory that still takes me back.
This fried bread I grew up eating, called khara pao (khara means “spicy”), is South Asia’s answer to French toast, typically served with a kicked-up tomato ketchup. My family was partial to black pepper, but I’ve seen turmeric, chili powder, cayenne and even cumin added. And South Asia’s not the only one that goes the savory route. In other cultures, they do similar-style “eggy toasts”—Italy’s has mozzarella and tomato sauce, Russia’s is simple salt, egg and milk, and Hungary serves theirs with onions, tomatoes, ketchup, and even mayonnaise…
This version is so ridiculously easy to make, and requires ingredients we all usually have on hand. I’m a savory brunch person myself, and this is such a delicious alternative to the sweet version. The crispy, salty, pepper-heavy toast dipped in a cool, spicy, slightly sweet, tomato-ey ketchup is a truly heavenly combination that will quickly move into your go-to, I-have-leftover-bread-and-don’t-know-what-to-do-with-it rotation. Breakfast or even as a mid-afternoon snack—enjoy!
Test Kitchen Notes
Aliyaleekong may have grown up eating this savory french toast, but for those of us who weren't so lucky, here's her easy recipe that might just make you turn your back on sweet french toast forever. It still pairs well with eggs and bacon, but (dare we say it?) this french toast would also make a mean Monte Cristo. - A&M —The Editors
- Serves 4 to 6
- For the French toast:
1 1/2 tablespoons
green onions, finely chopped (optional)
1 1/2 tablespoons
cilantro, finely chopped (optional)
(1/2-inch) slices day-old bread*, cut on the diagonal
- For the sauce:
- In a bowl or baking dish, beat together eggs with half-and-half, salt, pepper, green onions, and cilantro.
- Heat a medium or large skillet over medium-high heat. Cover the bottom of the skillet with vegetable oil and add a tablespoon or two of butter for taste.
- Dip the bread triangles into the egg batter, drain off any excess, and place straight into the hot pan. Fry for 2 to 3 minutes on each side – you want to develop a golden-brown color and the texture should be crispier than traditional French toast. Place cooked toasts on a paper towel-lined plate or rack to drain.
- In a small bowl, mix together ketchup and hot sauce to your desired heat tolerance.
- Serve toasts warm with a side of the spicy ketchup.
- *I like to use a country or pullman loaf for this. You want it to stand up to the egg batter and not get mushy, so I always go for a day-old loaf.