The Bombay East Bay Veggie Sandwich
If you want a recipe to fail, choose one you’ve been meaning to cook for at least a decade. Decide to cook it on a day when you aren’t home alone. A day when you must shop for ingredients before cooking. See chaos ensue. Of course you’ve chosen a recipe necessitating many steps, including producing a chutney. It is this chutney that required the shopping; once home, much washing of rain-splattered cilantro transpires before you can pulverize everything in a food processor.
Soon you are in race against the sun. The sun cares not a jot for your naturalist artsy fartsy wanna-be photog inclinations. It sails across the sky, ever-westward. To paraphrase Steve Miller, time keeps on slippin, slippin, slippin, into the future, taking your valuable natural light with it.
The chutney is a failure, so salty even your spouse, who enjoys a little food with his salt, wrinkles his nose. Goodbye, money. Goodbye, four hours you will never get back. Goodbye, daylight. Goodbye, cruel chutney, I’m tossing you today. Goodbye, goodbye, goodbye.
Onward. Have you not wanted to make the Bombay Vegetable Sandwich since Tamasin Day-Lewis’s Kitchen Bible appeared under the Christmas tree, many years back? Indeed you have. Many are the recipes you’ve prepared from Tamasin’s fine tome. Now you are making the Bombay Vegetable Sandwich. You will not be deterred by a salty chutney.
See your kitchen and living room become a disaster area. Normally you are neat. Normally you clean up as go. Not today. Grit crunches underfoot. Bits of cilantro dot the scene. Dirty dishes crowd the minimal counter space.
Toss the salty chutney. Make the mashed potato. Finish the recipe. Sample with your spouse, who finds it tasty but in need of extra punch.
A chutney might help. Further, he feels the cheese, in slice form, hasn’t really “gotten to know” the potatoes. Perhaps it could be grated directly into the mash?
Vow to tweak the recipe. Wake the next day find yourself wracked with low back pain. Panic. For 23 years you have lifted your husband, who is a great deal heavier. Of course this is a bad idea. But the days of a servant class are long past. Much as you’d like a houseboy or butler, finances don’t permit. A wife would be nice. But you are the wife.
Consult Dr. Internet. Learn low back pain presents with inverse severity to the injury. Dr. I. says you should be concerned about mild, barely noticeable pain. That and sudden paralysis.
Here at Villa IK, we’re entirely prepared for sudden paralysis. It’s the excruciating-yet-minor pain that presents problems.
But hey, not to worry. Not one bit.
Did you know there’s a hashtag for #bringmorebourbon?
Cut to the next day. Which is today. We at the IK passed a restless night–insane pain will do that–but are relieved to report improvement. There are no plans to pole vault, but insane has dialed back to merely awful. So, we made another sandwich, this time following Diana Henry’s recipe for chutney from Simple. Read on.
Day-Lewis offers little information about the Bombay Vegetable Sandwich apart from its being an excellent hangover curative. The recipe appears in the book’s Christmas section, ostensibly a use for leftover mashed potatoes. But the sandwich must be of Anglo-Indian extraction, for I found a close relation in Diana Henry’s Mumbai Toastie, which appears in Simple. Henry credits her friend Roopa Gulati for the recipe. Gulati, in turn, says it is a Mumbai street food. The Day-Lewis and Henry sandwiches are nearly identical save the potatoes, which don’t appear in the Mumbai Toastie.
If the idea of eating a mashed potato sandwich strikes horror in your Paleo heart, make Henry’s recipe. The rest of us filthy carb eaters will enjoy ourselves while recalling Indian cuisine treats the potato like the vegetable it is. Further, the addition of thinly sliced tomato and tangy chutney really does offset any starchy heaviness you’d expect from a “potato sandwich.”
While the Day-Lewis recipe assumes you’re starting with leftover mashed potatoes, I do not. It will works either way. If you have some mashed potatoes to hand, simply spice them up. A pound of potatoes yields three sandwiches, give or take. Then again, is leftover mashed potato ever a problem?
Day-Lewis calls for Gruyère cheese and thinly sliced onion. We used sharp cheddar, and taking the spouse’s suggestion, grated it into the mash. Having made this sandwich with quality sliced cheddar and grated, I’d say either way is good. I prefer it without onion, but express yourself.
Know that the chutney will taste much better once cooked. And that out-of-season tomato will lack flavor no matter what.
This recipe is easily made vegan by swapping out dairy for whatever nondairy you use.
The photo below is from the first attempt at making this recipe: note the lack of chutney. Recall the mess made of house whilst cooking; this included–please don’t ask how–buttering my Nikon. Hence the Instagram masterpiece, reproduced here, entitled “Buttered Nikon.”
The Bombay/East Bay Veggie Sandwich
Adapted from Tamasin’s Kitchen Bible by Tamasin Day-Lewis. See
Diana Henry’s Mumbai Toastie, in Simple, for a related recipe.
Yield: 2-3 sandwiches, easily scaled up or down
Prep Notes: this recipes assumes making mashed potatoes from scratch. If you happen to have leftover mashed potatoes, just add the spices.
1 pound Russet or other mashing potatoes, peeled and chunked
For the chutney:
1 bunch fresh mint (about four ounces)
1 bunch fresh cilantro (about four ounces)
juice of a lemon
a very little Maldon salt or 1/8th teaspoon fine salt. Go very easy here.
1 large garlic clove, peeled
1 fresh hot pepper, added to taste
For spicy mashed potatoes:
approximately 1 cup buttermilk (add only if starting from scratch)
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon salt (you may end up adding more; start with 1/2)
1/2 teaspoon sumac or juice of 1/2 lemon
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
about 4 ounces grated Cheddar cheese
For the rest of the sandwich:
four slices decent white bread
softened unsalted butter
thinly sliced onion (optional)
Put a pot of salted water on to boil and add the potatoes. Boil them until soft, 20-25 minutes.
Place an oven rack in the second highest slot. Preheat the oven to 350F.
While the potatoes boil, make the chutney:
Place the mint, cilantro, lemon juice, salt, garlic, and hot pepper in a food processor. Process, then take a taste, being mindful of the blade. Don’t expect this to taste very good raw; it will improve with cooking. Does it need more lemon or hot pepper? It shouldn’t need liquid, but if it does, add small amounts of sunflower or olive oil. Be very careful about adding salt; you’ll need very little. Scrape into a bowl and set aside.
Make the spicy mashed potatoes:
If you have a preferred mashed potato recipe, by all means use it before moving on to adding the spices. If not, I kept things simple here, mashing the potatoes, then pouring in one cup of buttermilk. Feel free to add more buttermilk if you find it necessary to reach an appealing mashed potato consistency.
Add the chili powder, turmeric, ground cumin, salt, sumac or lemon juice, and black pepper to the potatoes. Stir in the grated cheese. Don’t worry if the cheese doesn’t melt. It will during the final oven blast.
Make the sandwiches:
You’ll need an oven tray for this step, ideally a heavy one. Smear it with butter. Now butter two slices of bread and place them butter-side-down on the baking sheet. Put down a layer of cheesy, spicy potato on the bread, then the chutney, tomato, and onion, if using, Butter two pieces of bread on one side only. Close the sandwich butter side out. You want to keep the chutney facing upward; otherwise, sandwich sogginess will occur.
Slide the sandwiches into the oven and allow them to cook 10-15 minutes. You’re looking for them to heat through before turning the oven to the broil setting. You then want to delicately char the top piece of bread, which you’ll notice from the photos happens quite rapidly. Keep close watch.
Tamasin Day-Lewis suggests eating these sandwiches with catsup and potato chips, known in the U.K. as crisps. We wolfed them down all by themselves, though something green to offset all that richness probably wouldn’t go amiss. Napkins of the wet washcloth variety are a good idea here.
The Bombay/East Bay Vegetable sandwich reheats beautifully in a low oven. Don’t microwave it unless you enjoy rubbery food. Don’t even think of freezing it.
Notes: Spicing of this dish can range from mild to wild. I took the middling route here.
Sumac is present because the potatoes benefit from an acid component. Lemon juice is fine if sumac eludes you. Tamarind would work well, too.
Go easy on salting the chutney. I used fine sea salt the first time I made it, and the result was inedible. Maldon salt is deliberately specified here. If you can’t or won’t spend $11 on salt, understood: add fine salt sparingly–less than 1/8th of a teaspoon–and taste as you go. The same goes for adding hot pepper: start with small amounts. You can always add to a dish, but you can’t take away.
The original recipe calls for Gruyère cheese. I used sharp cheddar to excellent effect. If you don’t want to grate your cheese, quality sliced cheddar. “Cheese food” is not food. Don’t use it.
Day-Lewis specifies thinly sliced onion in her recipe. I prefer it without, but include it as an option in case you do.