When the world gets closer.

We help you see farther.

Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter.

food / travel

An Omelet Twist, How A Colonial Legacy Lives On In Vegetarian India

Most Indians are vegetarians. But omelets, a colonial legacy, remain popular in India.

Sanjay Sharma, the omelet chef
Sanjay Sharma, the omelet chef
Jasvinder Sehgal
Jasvinder Seghal

JAIPUR — Sanjay Sharma, 53, whips up a buttery cheese omelet at his stall set up in a busy market in this Indian desert city. For more than 30 years, he's been selling omelets — a business he says is growing.

"In the past, I used to sell about 30 omelets a day. But things have changed and people have developed a taste for them," says Sharma. "In the winter, I now use about 1700 eggs everyday to prepare different omelets."

Business is so brisk that, in addition to his stall, Sharma has also opened an omelet restaurant called Egg-dee.

In India, breakfast is almost always vegetarian. In the north, people eat paratha — a kind of flatbread. It was during British colonial rule that omelets began to be eaten in India. And it continues to this day.

"It's a specialty that can be prepared within two minutes. It's very nutritious, healthy and easy to cook," Sharma says.

Interior decorator Amit Soral, 39, is a loyal customer at Sharma's stall.

"I have been coming here for the last 25 years. My mother doesn't cook eggs so my father used to bring me here," says Soral. "I come here everyday. I'm like a child who is fascinated by chocolate. I am thrilled by the omelet."

"Colonial rule may be termed bad but it gave us many good things too and omelets are certainly part of that. Indians are enjoying them still," he says.

In India, omelets have adapted to local tastes. They are fried with chopped onions, green chillies and coriander.

Saurabh Sharma, a historian who has studied traditional Indian food, says that eggs were never part of the ancient Indian Indus civilization: "Tea and omelets were introduced during colonial rule, introduced by western companies invading India. As the officers of these companies had omelets for breakfast, slowly it became part of Indian cuisine."

Although many think that omelets were first prepared by the Romans, Sharma says that's not true. "History books show that this was first cooked in France. In my opinion, Bolestin was the first chef who prepared it. In 1603, he shifted from France to Britain and so did the popularity of omelets."

Sharma, the omelet seller, says he can cook about 150 varieties of the dish. Fashion designer Radhika Sharma, who is a regular at his stall, says his omelets are one-of-a-kind.

"This, we can't get anywhere else. It's just the taste," she says.

You've reached your limit of free articles.

To read the full story, start your free trial today.

Get unlimited access. Cancel anytime.

Exclusive coverage from the world's top sources, in English for the first time.

Insights from the widest range of perspectives, languages and countries.

eyes on the U.S.

Eyes On U.S. — California, The World Is Worried About You

As an Italian bestseller explores why people are fleeing the Golden State, the international press also takes stock of unprecedented Silicon Valley layoffs. It may be a warning for the rest of the world.

Photo of a window pane with water droplets reflecting Facebook's thumb up logo, with one big thumb down in the background

Are you OK, Meta?

Ginevra Falciani and Bertrand Hauger

-Analysis-

For as long as we can remember, the world has seen California as the embodiment of the American Dream.

Today, this dream may be fading — and the world is taking notice.

A peek at the Italian list of non-fiction best-sellers in 2022 includes California by Francesco Costa, a book that looks to explain why 340,000 people moved out of the state last year, causing a drop in its population for the first time ever.

To receive Eyes on U.S. each week in your inbox, sign up here.

Why are all these people leaving a state that on paper looks like the best place in the world to live? Why are stickers with the phrase “Don't California my Texas” attached to the back of so many pick-up trucks?

Keep reading...Show less

You've reached your limit of free articles.

To read the full story, start your free trial today.

Get unlimited access. Cancel anytime.

Exclusive coverage from the world's top sources, in English for the first time.

Insights from the widest range of perspectives, languages and countries.

The latest