The weather has become extremely unpredictable. The monsoon was comparatively dry and distributed unevenly across the land but now towards the fag end of the rainy season, we are struck by downpour that threatens to turn roads into canals, navigable only by boats. Our friends blame it on climate change and scare us with a doomsday scenario that is near. However, truth be told. Our real worry is what to eat when the weather is iffy. What happens to our batter and chopped vegetables for pakodas if it doesn’t rain? What do we snack on if the day is dry or how to go about making a light nutritious meal when it is hot and humid and one is not inclined to exert in the kitchen? The real challenge is to organise something which is innovative, interesting and also acceptable to adults and children alike.
Recently we were shooting a food-related programme with some friends who had just returned from Bhopal. They had had their fill of mouth-watering Nawabi delicacies at the Shamla Kothi, residence of the royal family there. Our ears were pricked when they mentioned something called the Shamla sandwich. To put it briefly, this is a vegetarian open sandwich (a bit like bruschetta) fashioned out of multigrain bread. The topping is boiled chickpeas or dried peas that go into the making of matra chaat in Varanasi and other parts of UP. While the chickpeas reminded one of the Mediterranean hummus with a hint of tahini sauce, garlic and extra virgin olive oil, the Indian elements were not missing either. The chillis (both red and green variety) made their presence felt, as did the roasted cumin seeds and just a touch of black rock salt. A dollop of hung curd and sweet and sour imli chutney completed the bliss. This was less a sandwich but more a raj kachori presented for a milder foreign palette.
This is what has inspired us to suggest for our dear readers a variation on the classic bun-tikki and present it with a multi-tier open club sandwich that takes practically no time to fix and can be tinkered with in myriad ways to show off your culinary skills. We are not, like most Indians, very fond of leafy green vegetables during the rainy season as these carry the risk of microbial infection. So we have avoided addding these but if you can’t do without them, you can shred some cabbage leaves or iceberg lettuce.
Buns (large-sized) 4
Butter 50 gm
Chickpeas (soaked overnight, boiled,
Preferably in a pressure cooker) 1 cup
Potatoes (boiled and mashed) 2 large
Onion (sliced thinly) 1 large
Tomatoes (sliced thinly) 1 large
Hung curd 1/4 cup
Green chillies (deseeded and chopped) 2-4
Red chilli flakes 1 tsp
Sweet and sour chilli sauce 1 tbsp
Tomato ketchup 1 tsp
Lemon juice 1 tsp
Garam masala 1 tsp
Salt To taste
Melt a little butter on a non-stick pan just to coat it with a thin film of fat. Then, lightly fry the buns sliced into half only on the inside. Remove and keep aside.
Mix the garam masala, chopped chillies and chilli flakes with some salt and the boiled potatoes shaped into round balls, flattened into patties and grilled on a non-stick pan. Turn once carefully. Remember the potatoes are boiled and need not be fried more than just a little. Remove and keep aside.
Lightly mash the boiled chickpeas and add to them the sweet and sour chilli sauce, tomato ketchup, lemon juice. Mix well. For added zing, you could sprinkle some red chilli flakes on top.
Now assemble the sandwich. Place the tikki as the first layer, chickpeas come on top and a spoon full of hung curd. Top it with sliced tomatoes, chillis, and cover with top half of the bun. Pierce with toothpicks to secure. Serve with preferred beverage, hot or cold.