Mumbai sandwich


Helen Graves serves up her version of Mumbai's most famous street food snack – the Mumbai sandwich. Soft white bread is topped with a vibrant herb chutney, masala spices and layers of cucumber, onion and tomato. The sandwich is then toasted until golden brown, concealing an oozing molten cheese centre.

First published in 2015

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). One of my new favourites however, has to be the Mumbai sandwich, also known as Bombay 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 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.




Green chutney

Masala mix

Mumbai sandwich

To serve

  • ketchup


Begin by making the chutney. Place all the ingredients in a blender and blitz until fully combined. Transfer to a small bowl and set aside
To make the masala mix, simply add all the ingredients to a large bowl and stir until evenly combined
Rub one side of each piece of bread with the cut side of the garlic. Butter both sides of bread and spread over a generous layer of chutney
Layer with the cucumber, then sprinkle over the masala mix. Repeat this process with a layer of tomato, then cheese, then onion
Top with the other slice of bread. Either toast the sandwich in a sandwich toaster, or fry in a heavy-based pan with something heavy on top (like another pan) until golden on each side. Serve with ketchup

Helen Graves is Head of Content at Great British Chefs. She's also the author of the cookbook LIVE FIRE: Seasonal Barbecue Recipes and Stories of Live Fire Traditions, Old and New, and the editor of Pit, an independent magazine with roots in live fire cooking.

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