Friday, April 4, 2014

Bombay Vegetable Sandwich (street food)

So many nostalgic moments linked to street food growing up in Bombay. My favorite, is of sitting on the Government Law College window ledge across from Churchgate railway station, and watching the sandwich walla busy making sandwiches to order. A steady flow of people waiting in line while others hurried past to catch their train. One by one, our classmates would arrive, a few of us from work, laughing and talking, cracking up at silly jokes, making up stories about the passersby and the crowds of people waiting to eat sandwiches always amazed us. Both the sandwich and sukha(dry) bhel vendor next to him had a thriving business.
Sandwich walla
(Picture courtesy - Radha N.)

The sandwich stall was very basic, a bamboo or wooden stand, with box that doubled as a table top. The simplicity was deceptive as it contained everything he needed to make the most delicious sandwich. I'm seriously drooling at the thought of an Amul butter (maska), coriander chutney, vegetables sandwich with layers of red onion, tomato, cucumber, potato, and the exotic and very red beetroot, salt and pepper, all arranged to perfection and cut into bite sized pieces. With a swipe of his hand he would transfer the cut sandwich to a paper plate. Top it with a well known brand of tomato ketchup or an orange colored home brand. A good meal, and all it cost was Rs. 2 or 3, very affordable to students and the general public.  It was a filling and sumptuous meal.

Street food had a charm of its own, we could savor a variety of food and cuisines on our college allowances and minimal salaries during those early career days. We worked hard, studied hard and partied plenty, enjoying life without responsibilities and worries, our parents and friends to fall back on.. Enough of the nostalgia... Here goes the Bombay sandwich, perfect addition to my dysfunctional cooking or should I say 'Non' cooking style.. :)

Ingredients for the sandwich:
  1. 2 or 3 slices of bread (wheat, multi-grain, rye or white)
  2. Soft butter or margarine(optional) as required
  3. 1-2 thin slices of cheese (could be Mozzarella, Swiss, cheddar, pepper jack .... ) 
  4. 1 tsp or more of green coriander chutney(I buy the Nirav brand which stays good refrigerated for months, homemade chutney with coriander, green Thai chilli, peanuts ground smooth with salt to taste.. works great too)
  5. 2-4 slices of tomato(Larger they are, the less slices you need)
  6. 2-4 slices of onions
  7. 8-10 slices of cucumbers(English, Persian or the pickle variety)
  8. 3-4 thin slices of boiled/steamed potatoes(optional)
  9. 3-4 thin slices of boiled/steamed beetroot(optional)
  10. Salt and black pepper shaker

  1. Use the same plate you plan to serve in, it should be large enough for the bread to lie flat
  2. Take 2 slices of bread and spread a thin layer of butter on the inner side
  3. Over it spread a layer of green coriander chutney
  4. Place a slice, chutney side up on the plate.
  5. Add a layer of sliced cheese of any variety 
  6. Add layers of vegetables starting with the tomatoes, followed by a light shake of salt and pepper over the vegetable
  7. Layer on, with cucumbers, onions, potato, beet,.. salt and pepper, added to taste
  8. Top with final layer of tomato
  9. Place the second slice of bread with chutney side facing down
  10. Now for the best part.. The sandwich needs to be cut to bite sized pieces. Hold the sandwich down with the span of your palm and using a sharp paring knife (same kind used to slice the onions and tomatoes). make three or four cuts on the wider side and two or three cuts across.
Notes: It sounds very simple, but the trick lies in the lightness of your hand with the salt and pepper shakes and the thin cuts on the vegetables. I sometimes add spinach or lettuce instead of cucumbers or onions for the crunch, or make it a simple cheese and tomato sandwich. I like cheese since it adds some protein content.

If you don't have coriander chutney on hand, use black pepper with a heavier hand. You can add mayo or mustard or ketchup or whatever you fancy. This is one dish, you have to own, to make it delicious.

You could add a slice or two of vegetables, meats, boiled eggs, whatever you like in a sandwich. I have tried avocado instead of potato; fresh mozzarella cheese (looks like eggs in the picture above) and  loved it.  If you have sandwich masala(available in the Desi Indian store) you can use it also. 

1 comment:

  1. Yummy..... miss the sandwich wala outside World Trade Center Mumbai. Every time we went to WTC we would definitely have our share of his delicious sandwiches.