This is some sandwich, and the recipe varies from stall owner to stall owner. To have it plain, toasted, grilled (broiled) or griddled is entirely the customer’s choice here. In fact, in Bombay we used to get an option for butter too. One was a margarine-type homogenized spread known as Rita Butter and the other, of course, proper butter. For the filling, everything here can be optional but this is our favourite combination. A word about the onions: we Indians simply love them raw, though in the West people are more worried about ‘onion breath’, which we seldom worry about, so you may wish to use less than we suggest. Beetroot (red beet) is also optional but gives great colour, texture and taste.
The bread of Bombay is also a famous part of this sandwich and is a unique-sized loaf, smaller than European loaves. A medium-sized slice of Western bread is the best alternative for this.
For the masala
- 1 tsp salt
- ½ tsp chilli powder
- 1 tsp dried mango powder
- ½ tsp cumin seeds, toasted and crushed
For the chutney
- 3–4 mint sprigs, leaves picked
- 4–5 coriander (cilantro) sprigs
- 1 thin green chilli, seeded, if liked, and chopped
- 2 tsp caster (superfine) sugar
- ¾ tsp cumin seeds, toasted and crushed
- salt to taste
- juice of ½ lime
For the sandwich
- 12 medium soft white bread slices
- 1 cooked beetroot (red beet), sliced
- 2 large waxy potatoes, boiled, peeled and sliced
- 3–4 beefsteak tomatoes
- 2 red onions, sliced
- 1 small cucumber, sliced
- tomato ketchup (catsup), if serving the sandwich toasted
- First mix all the masala ingredients together in a small bowl. Place in a salt or pepper shaker, if liked (or you can just sprinkle it by hand when the time comes). Next make the chutney. Blitz all the ingredients in a blender or small food processor.
- Now for the sandwich. Butter the bread, then smear the hot mint chutney over. Top 4 slices with sliced beetroot then potato, then top with another slice of buttered chutneyed bread. Sprinkle with some masala, then another buttered slice. Layer onion, tomato and cucumber on this. Sprinkle with more masala and the final slices of bread, chutney sides down.
- Press down and either cut each sandwich into quarters and serve or toast in a sandwich toaster, under a grill (broiler) or on a griddle and serve hot with tomato ketchup.
For a milder sandwich, omit the masala or just sprinkle a little on the finished sandwich.
You can make the sandwich with toasted bread instead of toasting it later but cooking it filled changes and intensifies the flavours.