Tortilla De Patatas is a legendary and historically favored dish in Spanish food culture. More commonly identified as Spanish Omelette in English speaking nations, this dish is a supreme example of minimalist food- a no-fuss dish that takes minimal time, minimal ingredients and yet is packed with nutrition while oozing with deliciousness.
While its requires just few simple ingredients for making Spanish Omelette, it goes without saying that this Omelette has a rich history associated with it which is over two centuries old. Traditionally made with only 3 ingredients, Eggs, Potatoes and Oil, Onions have been a bone of contention and a topic for debate between food purists on one side and those who like to experiment on other. While this debate has been raging for quite some time now, there is a new breed of innovators who have managed to add their own dimension (for good or bad is a topic for another discussion) to this humble dish. So if you happen to walk into a Spanish bar and have ordered Tortilla De Patatas and find fanciful additions like Mushrooms, Aubergine, diced ham, cheese or tuna on your Omelette, then you got to remember what you are relishing is the modern take on the classic recipe. Remember, classic recipe can only go as far as accommodating Onions to its ingredient list. While Spanish Omelette calls for extra virgin olive oil, some recipes including yours truly have used sunflower oil for making this preparation.
Until recently, it has been believed that the first mention of Spanish Omelette (as tortilla de patatas) has been made in year 1817. The letter addressed to Navarra’s regional court explains the poor conditions of Navarre’s farmers. Quote follows: “…two to three eggs in tortilla for 5 or 6 [people] as our women do know how to make it big and thick with less eggs, mixing potatoes, breadcrumbs or whatever.” (read wiki for more details).
Some attribute the discovery of Spanish Omelette to General Thomas Zumalacárregui, who is believed to have invented this dish as a quick-fix meal that meets nutrition requirements of his army during the Siege of Bilbao. Another version states that it was in fact a poor and enterprising wife of a farmer, who made and served this dish to visiting General and he just popularized this dish.
Spanish Omelette is an essential part of Tapa (or appetizer) which is a small food portion served along with sherry wine. A typical Spaniard has his lunch between 1-4 PM and dinner between 9-11 PM which leaves plentiful of time between these meals. So they go bar-hopping between this time interval and spend time socializing with people over drinks. In between they eat tapas and hence it is very common for a bar to serve 8-12 different types of Tapas along with the drinks. The Omelette is cut into small pieces and served on cocktail sticks on Tapa menu. It can also be served as a light dinner, cut into small triangles and served along with salad and tomato. It serves as a perfect light meal before bedtime. Another popular usage of Spanish Omelette is in form of sandwiches which are easy to have on to go, with the Omelette stuffed between two pieces of baguette. It is also quite a filling meal and single Omelette can easily be shared between 3-4 members of a family.
If eggs feature regularly on your breakfast menu and you are tired of cheese omelette, Masala Omelette and other common varieties, then do yourself a favor and quickly print out this recipe and make it for a couple of times. Though a bit difficult to handle (particularly the flipping part) initially, it becomes easier as you go along. I am pretty sure your family would love this Omelette and would regularly insist you on making this delicious preparation for their Sunday brunch.
Make this delightful Spanish Omelette and share your feedback with us in comment section below.
- 6 Whole Eggs
- 1 Large=100gms Onion- sliced into lengths
- 450 gms Potatoes- Peeled, Washed and Cleaned. Cut into thin slices and keep it in a bowl of water to prevent oxidation
- ½ tsp White Pepper Powder
- ½ Cup=125 gms Cooking Oil
- We require a deep pan for making this Omelette. Do not use flat pans for making this Omelette. Add Oil in this Pan and allow it to become hot. As Oil becomes hot, add sliced Onions. Now, add sliced Potatoes. Ensure Potatoes are evenly sliced so that it gets evenly cooked. Mix well on medium heat.
- We have stirred Potatoes well for 2 mins on medium heat. Now we will cook this mixture of Onions-Potatoes on low-medium heat. Cook on low heat. Stir intermittently to prevent it from sticking to the bottom of pan and getting burnt.
- We have Cooked Potatoes for 20 mins on low heat. Remove from heat. Strain excess Oil and reserve it.
- Potato and Onion mixture is well cooked. We have removed it in a large bowl. Reserve the Oil and do not discard it. You can use it for cooking later.
- Crack open eggs and add it in Potato-Onion mixture. Now add white pepper powder and Salt to taste. Using a fork, mix the eggs with potato mixture. Do not whisk too vigorously, just mix.
- You can replace white pepper powder with black pepper powder. You can make an Indianised version of this Omelette by adding Green Chilies, fresh coriander. Keep aside this Omelette mixture for 10 mins.
- Heat 2-3 tbsp Oil in the deep pan. On low heat, add Omelette mixture in the Pan. The mixture has thickened after keeping for 10 mins. Cook on high heat for 1 minute.
- Omelette gets set after 1 minute of cooking on high heat. Reduce the heat and cook for 2-3 minutes.
- After 3 mins of cooking on low heat, Check with a fork. Underside seems to be firm and well set. Turn off the heat. Cover the pan with this plate and flip the pan. Don't be in rush, do it gradually.
- We have removed this Omelette in a plate. We will now cook Omelette from other side. Transfer it to the pan. Put the pan back on heat. Slide the Omelette gradually back in the pan. Cook on low heat for 2-3 minutes.
- After 2 mins, remove from heat. Place the same plate on pan and flip it back. Slide it back in the pan and cook for final time on low heat for 1-2 mins.
- After 2 mins remove from pan and serve hot.
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