I am so pleased to share with you the first recipe in my new series: Monica’s Indian Express: Simple & Sassy Weeknight Dishes.
I hope you will enjoy.
Monica’s Indian Express: Spicy Cheese Sandwich
I grew up eating Indian chili-cheese toast, which is the mother recipe for the one presented here. My mom used to toast bread, place a spiced cheese filling on top, broil it, and serve it with tomato ketchup. Comfort never tasted so good! I love making this with paneer, but my kids prefer the ooey gooey nature of cheese that melts. You can pick what you like!!
Variations: If you dont have time to steam the bell peppers, leave them out. You can use thin slices of grilled paneer instead of scrambling it. You can add chopped sun-dried tomatoes.
2 small bell peppers, any color
4 tablespoons butter, softened
8 slices (3/4-inch-thick) good sandwich bread
2 tablespoons oil
1 green serrano chile, seeded and minced
2 tablespoons minced shallots
2 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
1 1/2 cups grated paneer or mild cheddar (see note)
Salt and pepper
- Roast the bell peppers directly over the gas flame of a stove, on a grill, or under the broiler, turning occasionally until charred all over, about 10 minutes. Transfer the peppers to a bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let steam for 5 minutes. Rub off the skin and seed the peppers. Cut them into strips.
- Butter one side of each slice of bread. Flip the slices over onto a piece of parchment or waxed paper, so the unbuttered side is on top.
- In a large pan, heat the oil on medium heat. Add the chile, shallot, and garlic and cook for about a minute, until they begin to soften and gain a little color.
- Transfer to a bowl and thoroughly stir in the cheese. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Heat a griddle or large, flat skillet over medium heat. (Don’t let it get too hot or the bread will brown before cheese is soft or melted.)
- Mound the cheese equally on four slices of bread. Add a few slices of the roasted pepper to each mound. Place the remaining bread on top, buttered side up.
- Place the sandwiches on the griddle. Do not crowd; if you can only fit one or two sandwiches at a time, cook them in batches and serve as soon as they’re done.
- When the bread is golden brown underneath, turn sandwiches over with a spatula and press flat. Reduce the heat to medium-low and continue cooking until the bread is golden brown on both sides. Slice in half and serve hot.
Note: You can buy Nanak brand paneer at just about any Indian grocer. If you can’t find it, but want to use a cheese that won’t melt, look for queso de freir with the Latin dairy products in your supermarket. If you prefer the melting, ooey, gooey sandwiches, use any mild cheddar. My mom used to make these with grated Amul-brand Indian cheese (again, easily available at any Indian grocer.)
(MANY thanks to Alka from Sindhi Rasoi for letting me use this photo!)