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- 1 small red onion, diced
- 1 teaspoon neutral oil (like grapeseed)
- 8 slices hearty bread
- 4 slices vegan cheese (smoked Gouda or cheddar preferred)
- 1 cup chickpea flour (also known as besan or gram flour)
- 3/4 cup water
- 3 Indian green chilis or serrano peppers, chopped (keep seeds and ribs)
- 1/4 cup fresh coriander, chopped
- 1 teaspoon cumin seeds, ground roughly in a mortar and pestle
- Kosher salt, to taste
- 4 tablespoons vegan butter
- 2 to 3 wedges lemon (plus more, for serving)
- Chaat masala, for garnish (optional)
- Maple syrup, for serving
- Indian ketchup, for serving
I grew up going to India every year with my family and during our visits, we would spend most of our time in my mom's small home city, Ankali, in Karnataka, India. My family lived on a farm with plentiful gardens, so everything we ate was always fresh, including the eggs. My uncle and aunt would make us these delicious, spicy, egg-coated toasts with chilis, onions and spices — they were so good! Since I'm vegan, I no longer eat eggs, but this savory recipe incorporates those delicious flavors and textures from my childhood.
Technique tip: If you have leftover batter after coating your French toasts, reserve it to make pakora (Indian fritters) so nothing is wasted. Just add a little more chickpea flour to the batter and mix until it reaches a nice, thick consistency. Add canola or grapeseed oil to the pan on medium to medium-high heat. Spoon out 1 tablespoon of the batter and fry until golden-brown on each side.
Special equipment: Mortar and pestle (or use ground cumin seeds instead of grinding them fresh).
Swap option: Use a vegan egg substitute instead of the chickpea flour and water mixture.
Heat a nonstick skillet over medium heat and add neutral oil. Once the oil is hot, add in the diced red onions and sauté until they begin to sweat and get a bit of caramelization, about 3 to 4 minutes. Remove from pan and set aside.2.
Prepare the batter: In a shallow, wide bowl, whisk together the chickpea flour with water until smooth (break up any lumps and ensure that the mixture is smooth). With a fork, mix in the chilis (or serrano pepper), coriander, sautéed onion, ground cumin seeds and a pinch of salt. Set aside.3.
Place a slice or two of vegan cheese in between two slices of bread. Gently dip bread into chickpea batter until lightly coated on all sides. Set aside on a parchment-lined plate. Repeat with all sandwiches.4.
Heat nonstick skillet from earlier over medium-high heat. Add 1 tablespoon of vegan butter. Once the butter is melted and bubbly, add one of the batter-coated French toasts to the skillet. Cook for 3 to 4 minutes, until golden-brown on one side. Then flip and cook for an additional 3 to 4 minutes until both sides are golden-brown and cheese is melty. Remove and repeat with remaining stuffed French toasts.5.
Place hot toasts on a platter and immediately sprinkle on chaat masala (if using) so it sticks to the French toast. Serve with fresh lemon wedges, a drizzle of maple syrup and ketchup on the side.