If food lore is to be believed, it was the Earl of Sandwich — addicted to playing cards — who invented the dish that bears his name. Two slices of bread holding between them some pieces of roasted meat accompanied by salad leaves, it served the Earl’s needs. He could nourish himself without soiling his hands or interrupting the game. The sandwich has since evolved in a mind-boggling manner. From delicate thin cucumber sandwiches to jumbo three-tiered ones and more club variety that can serve for lunch of a famished beast, they come in all sizes and shapes with myriad fillings. Submarines and footlongs, grilled or plain, classic BLT (bacon, lettuce, tomato), chutney or peanut butter filled — the list is long. The ubiquitous hamburger and hotdog also belong to the same category. Sandwiches are quintessential "finger food" that can be enjoyed on the run, in picnics, packed for lunch at school or office. We are surprised that people who routinely order these at trendy coffee shops or combine a sandwich with soup or salad to make a light meal seldom exert to prepare these at home or serve them with panache at informal parties. We prefer a healthy, interesting sandwich to the clichéd Mughaliya daawat ordered from the hole-in-the-wall takeaway or even the "designer" caterer.
We were absolutely delighted to discover that with the wide variety of multigrain and other specialty breads available off the shelf now how easy it is to indulge in exotic, nutritious and affordable sandwich feasts. What sets you back more than half a grand at a hotel can be had for a little more than Rs 50 in do-it-yourself-style operation. A chef friend has shown what sparkling stuff can be produced by eschewing butter, mayonnaise and other health hazards like French fries or potato wafers. He insists that kasundhi-like mustard paste and home-made tomato sauce/salsa, paired with baked banana chips win hands down against all competition.
Whole meal/Multigrain bread of choice Sliced
Paneer/tofu (grated or crumbled) 50 g
Round slice of pan-grilled baingan ½ inch thick
Sweet bell peppers (red and yellow ¼ charred a little on an open flame)
Salad greens or edible leaves (don’t hesitate to experiment with rocket/basil and other stuff with more "soul" than iceberg)
Raw banana (sliced thin and baked after brushing with miniscule quantity of olive oil in oven preheated to 150°F)
Kasundhi paste (bottled or mustard ground at home 1 tsp with green chillies and a little lemon juice)
Freshly ground black pepper One largepinch
Salt (optional, to taste)
Assemble the ingredients and place as you wish between the bread slices. Arrange the accompaniments on a platter and enjoy.