Friday, April 15, 2011

Bombay Sandwich

by Aishwarya Pramod

Bhelpuri and vada pao may rule the world of Mumbai street food; but I think the Bombay Sandwich manages to hold its own quite well :)

Everyone I know likes them – hot, toasted, full of sliced vegetables, melted cheese and spicy green chutney.

I’m not really sure why it’s called a Bombay Sandwich (I googled it and found no explanations), but I think it’s probably because the sandwich as a major staple of street cuisine is only found here in Mumbai. I’ve eaten these sandwiches at Elco Arcade in Bandra, at a little stall outside my college building, at a stall in Matunga Market, in Gurukripa Restaurant in Sion, and near Podar College... And they’ve all been deliciously filling. :)

I’ve noticed that these sandwiches tend to be almost exclusively vegetarian. I suppose that’s part of the definition of a Bombay Sandwich. And there’s usually a fixed set of veggies that go into it – cucumber, tomato, potato (very important), onion, beetroot, capsicum. And the bread is always soft and white, no fancy healthy alternatives like brown or multigrain.

Some sandwich-walas add their own special twists to the sandwich. The one near my college, for example, tops his sandwiches with crunchy sev; really nice! The one near Podar College offers chocolate and cheese sandwiches, which seemed popular among the students.

The Making of a Bombay Sandwich

Spread the slices with butter, green chilly-coriander chutney, and red garlic chutney. Add fresh crunchy cucumber slices....

...thick wedges of boiled potato, and sprinkle generously with sandwich masala (a KEY ingredient). This sandwich-wala perhaps makes his own masala. When asked, "Bhaiya ismein kya hai?" he said "Ismein toh jahaan hai" :). But one could recreate this sandwich at home using sandwich masala from Kapol or Tid-bit.

Add onion, beetroot (ooh, colourful) and a ton of grated cheese...

Tomato, more masala, and finally it's ready to be toasted...

... using this contraption-thing (we have one just like it at home).

It comes out hot and golden-brown. Cut into pieces, top with more chutney, more grated cheese, or both.


Oh, but I cringe to think how calorific (AND unhygienic) it probably is. Kidding, actually I don't care, I’d eat it anyway, anyday :)

This article also appeared in Chorus+Echo, a UK-based website that
curates and publishes interesting cultural stories from around the world