We have a terrible track record in the UK when it comes to devising any kind of ‘curried’ or spiced sandwiches. I am thinking of sweaty pre-packed Coronation chicken (with raisins, ew) or pappy chicken tikka ‘fillet pieces’ that squeak against your teeth. These vaguely Indian influenced sandwiches seem even more tragic when compared to the vada pav, for example (spiced fried potato balls in a bun with both sweet and hot chutneys), or the kati roll (varying curries wrapped in a flaky paratha). Recipes for both of those can, incidentally (cough) be found in my recipe book 101 Sandwiches. One of my new favourites however, has to be the Mumbai sandwich.
Apparently this is sold pretty much everywhere as street food in Mumbai. Sadly, I’ve never been, but I have had someone in the know describe my version as ‘better than the real thing’, which will do very nicely for now, thank you. The sandwich is spread with a chutney, fresh with coriander and hot with green chillies. The toppings are sliced cucumber, tomatoes, red onion and plenty of cheese. Any melting cheese will work fine really, and I’ve made it with lots of different varieties. This time I used a um, Swedish cheese called Västerbottensost because I had it to hand. Yes okay it’s a bit fusion but I am not worried about a visit from the food police. If it tastes good, it goes in. The layers of vegetables are sprinkled with a masala powder (ground cumin, ground coriander, cinnamon, black pepper, amchoor (dried mango powder) and salt) and I like to add a little extra flavour by rubbing the bread with a cut garlic clove before toasting.
The key to success with this sandwich is, as ever, fresh ingredients. The spices for the masala should not have been at the back of the cupboard for two years. Make sure the vegetables are perky and the chutney has been recently blended. The bread should be white and spread on both sides with butter (original toasted sandwich rules apply, guys), so that the outside becomes golden and crunchy.
Cooked potato is often also added to the Mumbai sandwich, so go ahead if that’s your thing. I’m not against carb on carb per se, but I just like the freshness of this sandwich as it is and I think the cheese adds heaviness enough.
What more could you want? Oh yeah, a dollop of ketchup on the side. Trust me.