Cheesy Bombay Toast

published Oct 20, 2022
Bombay Toast Recipe

Savory French toast soaked in a spicy egg mixture with turmeric, cumin, coriander, cilantro, diced chiles and onions, before it's hit with mozzarella and served with cilantro chutney.

Serves4 to 6

Prep15 minutes to 20 minutes

Cook15 minutes

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Overhead photo of Bombay Toast with sauce/garnish on plate. Fork and knife
Credit: Photo: Christopher Testani; Food Styling: Rebecca Jurkevich; Prop Styling: Paulina Velez

My family didn’t really eat anything sweet for breakfast, so French toast was a rarity in our home. Instead, we ate Bombay toast, made using a similar method as French toast except the bread is soaked in eggs mixed with turmeric, cumin, coriander, cilantro, diced chiles, and onions.

Although Bombay toast can be used to describe both sweet and savory versions of French toast, in my family it’s a term used exclusively for this savory application. The dish isn’t a Shaokat family invention — it hails from the streets of Bombay, and eventually spread across South Asia in various forms and became a breakfast staple in Bangladesh, where I grew up. 

My mother’s Bombay toast was simply the best, so this recipe is based on the one I grew up eating. Although her version didn’t have any cheese (because it wasn’t readily available in Bangladesh back then), I include mozzarella because, well, it’s delicious! And even though my childhood condiment of choice was ketchup (yes, ketchup!), I’ve graduated to cilantro chutney, which pairs really nicely with the heat from the chiles.

Credit: Photo: Christopher Testani; Food Styling: Rebecca Jurkevich; Prop Styling: Paulina Velez

How to Make Bombay Toast Your Own

This recipe is my version of my family’s Bombay toast, but it’s less of a recipe and more of a jumping-off point, so feel free to make it your own.

  • Herbs: Not a cilantro fan? Skip it entirely or substitute parsley instead. You can also skip the cilantro chutney or top the toast with ketchup, as I did as a kid.
  • Chiles: For a less spicy Bombay toast, just use a pinch of chili powder and reduce the amount of jalapeños and serranos. You could also use milder chiles, like Anaheim. 
  • Cheese: The mild, creamy mozzarella is a nice counterpoint to the spices, chiles, and herbs, but if you have another cheese on hand (like cheddar or Monterey Jack), give it a try.

Bombay Toast Recipe

Savory French toast soaked in a spicy egg mixture with turmeric, cumin, coriander, cilantro, diced chiles and onions, before it's hit with mozzarella and served with cilantro chutney.

Prep time 15 minutes to 20 minutes

Cook time 15 minutes

Serves 4 to 6

Nutritional Info

Ingredients

  • 1

    medium shallot

  • 1

    medium red or green serrano pepper

  • 1

    medium jalapeño pepper, or 1 fresh Thai chile if you want it spicier

  • 1/2 medium bunch

    fresh cilantro

  • 6

    large eggs

  • 1/4 cup

    whole or 2% milk

  • 1 teaspoon

    kosher salt

  • 1/2 teaspoon

    ground coriander

  • 1/4 teaspoon

    ground cumin

  • 1/4 teaspoon

    ground turmeric

  • 1/4 teaspoon

    chili powder (optional)

  • 2 ounces

    low-moisture mozzarella cheese

  • 3 tablespoons

    unsalted butter, divided

  • 6 (1/2-inch thick) slices

    challah or brioche bread, preferably stale, divided

  • Cilantro chutney, for serving

Instructions

  1. Prepare the following, adding each to the same 8x8-inch or other 2-quart baking dish: Peel and small dice 1 medium shallot. Trim and halve 1 medium serrano pepper and 1 medium jalapeño pepper (or Thai chile) lengthwise. Remove and discard the seeds, then finely dice the peppers. Finely chop the leaves and tender stems of 1/2 medium bunch fresh cilantro leaves until you have 1/2 cup.

  2. Add 6 large eggs, 1/4 cup whole or 2% milk, 1 teaspoon kosher salt , 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander, 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin, 1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric, and 1/4 teaspoon chili powder if using. Beat with a fork until the spices are fully incorporated and the mixture is a little frothy.

  3. Grate 2 ounces low-moisture mozzarella cheese on the large holes of a box grater (about 1/2 cup). Add to the egg mixture and whisk until combined.

  4. Melt 1/2 tablespoon of the unsalted butter in a large nonstick frying pan over medium heat. Meanwhile, add 2 slices of the bread to the egg mixture and let soak for 10 to 20 seconds per side depending on how stale it is. Use the fork to make sure that both sides of the bread have a good amount of the shallots, peppers, cilantro, and cheese pressed into it.

  5. Add the bread slices to the pan. If the top of the toast doesn’t have much of the cheese mixture, add more on top of the bread with the fork. Cook until golden brown on the bottom, about 2 minutes. Flip the bread, add 1/2 tablespoon of the butter to the pan, and cook until the second side is golden brown, about 2 minutes more. Transfer to a plate and repeat soaking and frying the remaining 4 slices in the remaining butter. Serve with cilantro chutney.

Recipe Notes

Storage: Leftovers can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 4 days. Rewarm in a low oven until heated through.