Of food traditions and eggs without onions!

egg paste sandwich egg paste sandwich

“Hi baby. All okay?” I’m calling home from office mid-morning during the summer vacation.

The kids are alone at home for a while till my father-in-law is due to come to spend the day with them. An extremely doting granddad, the kids are excited to have their thatha at home.

“Yes, amma. Guess what? I made an omelette for thatha!” she announces excitedly.  Excited because she’s only seven years old and making an omelette is an achievement!

“Whaaa? An omelette? Let me speak to him”, I ask.

He comes on the line, hemming and hawing.

“How come you ate an omelette today, Appa? Amma said that I should make food without onions for you because it’s your dad’s thevasam?”

(Thevasam is the annual death ceremony that Hindus perform to both appease and honour their forebears. It is also a day when you have a sort of restricted fast-foods like onions and garlic are strictly prohibited. Eggs are definitely out of the question and he has been warned sternly by his wife that he cannot even eat onions today!)

“Urp… errr… noo… you see… duh… urrr… the omelette did not have any onions in it!” he finally blurts out sheepishly!

I get the whole story from my kids when I get back home. I know my father-in-law is inordinately fond of eggs and not at all fond of rituals (both of which I have in common with him!) and normally there are always eggs in the house. That morning, we’d run out of eggs and I hadn’t had time to order before leaving for work. So Appa (that’s what I call my pop-in-law) comes home, opens the fridge and sees… no eggs! Some @#$%#@%&^%* happens and then he sends the watchman out to buy… an egg! That’s right – just the one! (So that he can hide the traces in case mom-in-law drops in unexpectedly!)

Carefully, he’s asked Arch to make an omelette for him without onions! So that in case he’s asked later about what he ate for the day, he can say completely truthfully that he followed her instructions to the T and did not eat any onions! Dennis must have been modelled on Appa!

This story has passed into family folklore along with a million funny remembrances of a wonderful man who along with his Dennis-esque qualities also had a real talent for malapropisms and spoonerisms!!

And so… on to our recipe. Obviously such an egg-y story has to have an egg-y ending… so here is the most delicious…


  • Just boiled eggs – 4 (the yolks should be set and just not runny.

And did you think anyone could boil an egg? Think again! There is an art to this. Here’s a tutorial… Wash eggs well but don’t crack them in the process.

Check for freshness by placing in a bowl of water. Floaters – chuck them out – they’re not committed!! Sinkers – great – they’re our anchors!

Place a tsp of  salt in water in a bowl. Gently slip in eggs. The water should just cover the eggs. Cook the eggs initially on a low flame for 2 minutes. Stir a few times so the yolks stay centred. Otherwise they tend to slip to one side – a bit like our waistlines do when we don’t stirabout  in our youth! Increase the heat and bring to a boil. Boil for about 3-4 minutes. Remove and dunk in cold water. Let cool and peel carefully – this is the best part – I love peeling eggs!

  • Grated cheese – 1/4 cup – Cheddar is great
  • Ketchup – 3 tsp
  • Pepper and salt
  • Mayonnaise – 2 tbsp
  • Mustard paste – best to grind your own – 1 tsp (1 tsp mustard seeds in a few drops of water – grind away in a stone mortar)
  • Milk – 1 or 2 tbsp
  • Chopped herbs of your choice – I prefer fresh basil

Using a fork, press down the rest of the ingredients into the eggs.

Sandwich! White soft sandwich bread is best but use brown if you have to!

And please note – this recipe is to honour my dear father-in-law and therefore has NO onions!