If you are ever in Churchgate, Mumbai, and you travel in the local train, when you step outside the station, in one corner, you will find people flocking, young college going students, working men and women , around a small stall,which at first you may not even notice because of the flock. At a glance you will also notice, the flock is engaged in similar actions and you think, smiling to yourself, birds of a feather.... , and then you see what action it is, plate in one hand (left, mostly- unless that person is a left handed person, then right) and the other hand carrying a small square 'something' to the mouth and enjoying every bite. You are drawn to the flock and then you see what the fuss is all about. It's the sandwichwalla!
This sandwichwalla ( The sandwich stall owner) I am talking about used to ( and maybe he still is there) operate outside Churchgate station and my news is at least 8 -9 years old.
Rapidly preparing sandwiches, he works at a fast and smooth, unfaltering pace, slathering butter on the slices of bread creating a mound in one corner and then quickly laying these slices in a grid and smearing chutney on top. adding the vegetables ( as per customers preference) and slapping the second slice of bread on top and then using a thin but razor sharp knife, deftly cuts it into 8 little squares and slides the whole thing, neatly onto a plate. Using squeeze bottles, squirts ketchup on top and hands it to the hungry and waiting customer.
Walking thru Mumbai, you will find such small stall owners in practically every lane, catering to the hunger pangs of one and all for a small price.
I have no idea what a simple sandwich costs these days, but I remember, in my college days, it was Rs.5/- and on a student pocket money, it was affordable nutrition.
What made this sandwich so addictive was the spicy chutney, slathered onto a slice of soft buttered bread.
I have a similar version for you today.
1 Large bunch, Fresh Cilantro ( leaves and tender stems)
4 Green Chilies ( reduce quantity to suit your preference)
1/2 tsp. Cumin Seeds
1/2 tsp. Coriander seed powder
1/2 inch Fresh ginger knob
Salt to Taste
2 Tbsp Lemon juice
Wash the cilantro. Add all the ingredients to the blender/ mixie jar, except lemon juice and blend to a smooth paste, with minimum water.
Remove to a container, add lemon juice and mix it in.
This chutney is versatile and can be used in bhel or sev puri or ragda patties when coupled with meethi (date and tamarind) chutney.
To assemble the sandwich:
For one sandwich
2 Slices of Bread ( the original uses white sliced bread)
A pat of Butter
Thinly Sliced Cucumber
Thinly sliced Tomato
Thinly Sliced, Boiled Potato
Thinly Sliced Red Onion
Thinly sliced Boiled Beetroot
Dash of Salt and Pepper ( if required)
Butter both slices of bread.
On one slice, apply the Cilantro chutney ( on both, if you want, but make sure that it does not overwhelm the over all taste it is a dominating taste and the vegetables are plain / raw)
Pile on the fixin's. Choose what you want, but the most common are Cucumber, Tomato and Boiled Potato ( and the ones we almost always have on hand). Sprinkle with salt and pepper, if using.
Place the second slice, buttered side down on top and carefully slice the sandwich into squares or triangles
Serve immediately with ketchup
Use water carefully when blending the chutney ingredients, you do not want a runny chutney, it makes soggy sandwiches
Mint can be added to the chutney to enhance the flavor ( about 1/4 cup fresh mint leaves)
Cream cheese can be used instead of butter, it alters the taste, but is a nice change
Substitute Whole Wheat sliced bread or a multi grain bread or Ciabatta roll ( as I have used here), instead of white bread
In most Indian stores, you will find a sandwich masala, this can be sprinkled instead of salt and pepper, it is purely optional.
For a Gluten allergies here is a recipe for Coconut flour bread
For a Vegan Version, substitute with vegan butter
These sandwiches make great picnic food.
Just don't assemble and pack them to eat later on! Soggy mess- unappealing!
We walked this path on Saturday, there was a slight breeze and the sun, mercifully behind a few clouds, in short, nothing to mar my happiness. Bombay Sandwiches for a picnic lunch and this view, priceless!
P.S: call it Mumbai Sandwich , if you want, either way, it tastes the same!