Filled with local ingredients, sandwiches have a universal appeal
Comparing the best of anything with sliced bread is not a bad parallel, really. I, for one, am a great fan of sliced bread. I like a toasted piece of brown bread with my double fried egg, and I love white bread sandwiches – stuffed with anything from mashed boiled egg and slices of chicken or ham, to chutney and vegetables.
As I have often said, Novelty Stores in Jangpura has the best sandwiches you can eat this side of Mumbai. The bread is soft and is lathered with a mild home-made mayo, which is delicious in itself. And then the filling is out of this world – a soft layer of chicken or ham, or a mix of mashed tuna.
I also like the role that bread plays in street food. The bread pakora is a great favourite of mine. I start to drool when it is taken out of a big kadhai of hot oil, the besan batter crisply covering the bread. In many little sweetshops, the bread pakora has a filling.
Most halwais put a dollop of spicy mashed potato in between two triangles of a slice of bread. In Malik Sweets on Hanuman Road, there is a soft filling of paneer in the bread pakora.
But, as I never tire of saying, some of the best street-side sandwiches are to be found at Jain Sa’ab’s shop in Chawri Bazaar. You can have some incredibly tasty sandwiches made with guava, mango, banana, or just plain malai and sugar.
One city where the streets are known for their sandwiches is Mumbai. Alas, the last time I was there I spent all my waking hours locked up in a room, playing bridge.
The sandwiches – with various kinds of ingredients such as paneer, vegetables, potatoes and mint chutney – are delicious, and so, so local.
My friend Sharad Dewan is a great votary of the Mumbai sandwich. I asked Dewan, who is the regional director, food production, The Park, about the street food that he likes to serve his guests in the hotel in Kolkata, and he came up with the tramezzini vegetarian (small Italian sandwiches) inspired by the Mumbai sandwich.
It’s a mix of cuisines, but sounds truly delightful.
Try it out this Sunday. Have it some with cutting chai. And you will be transported to the bustling streets of the city that never sleeps.
Tramezzini vegetarian inspired by the Mumbai sandwich
(To serve 4)
12 slices of bread
200g French fries
4g chaat masala
4g black salt
4g black pepper
8 slices of Amul cheese
40g fried potato slices
80g lettuce leaves
60g mint chutney and mayonnaise (30g each of mint chutney and mayo, mixed)
Butter one side of a slice of bread and place it in the grill, buttered side up. Spread minted mayo on the unbuttered side. Place on it a lettuce leaf, tomato slices and cucumber slices.
Add two cheese slices on it and sprinkle salt and pepper over it. Cover the topping with another grilled slice of bread. Spread minted mayo on top of the second slice, and then put paneer slices, potato slices and onion slices on it.
Sprinkle red chilli powder, salt and pepper on it. Grill the third slice with the buttery side on top. Spread minted mayo on the unbuttered side and cover the second layer.
Place the sandwich in the grill and grill from both sides. Cut into one big triangle and two small triangles. Repeat with the remaining slices and ingredients. Serve with French fries.