My four close girlfriends and I, we the famous (or infamous) gang of five, carefree girls who were the talk of the college because of some reason or another. Sometimes because of what we did, or wore or said and many times for the lack of. If you grew up in a small city in India you can imagine how jarring the surrounding can be for someone like us, specially for a girl. Although we couldn’t care less and probably that was what bothered the other students and teachers more. We were in the college to enjoy our golden days and were lucky to have found each other, a bunch of like minded crazies.
We stepped out of the examination hall after writing our last exam for undergrad and we could actually feel the wind beneath our wings. But then this thought also sank inside that probably all this is going to be over soon. The five of us, as much as we enjoyed each others company, we also wanted different things in the next phase of our lives. One of us wanted to enter the field of research, a couple into science, one wanted to go into designing and I wanted to write. So it was also time to part ways. Not permanently but from the day today mischief and daily hang outs.
So probably one last hoorah before we take the plunge?
A girls trip!
Yes, that would be fun!
That would be exciting but also scary. We hadn’t taken one ever before.
But then that’s the adventure we were looking for. So we decided, lets go to a new city and paint it red for a week.
Mumbai of course! That’s a no brainer.
The largest, most happening city in India. Bustling and exciting but at the same time safe for a bunch of young girls roaming the streets on their own. A good reason parents would look for before giving us the approval to take this trip. An approval, the presence of which is very important for a middle class girl in India, at 21… even at 36 and 50.
Lucky us, we got one!
Mumbai it is! Date was decided, tickets were bought and bags were packed. We were nervous but at the same time couldn’t wait to jump on that train and travel to the city where dreams were made, nights were always young and where maybe we could fly a little. Although just for a week but the mere idea was exciting and more exciting was the fact that we were doing it together.
Finally the day came and we did hop on that train and landed in Mumbai and spent one glorious week there. That was an amazing trip. We travelled in local trains and buses packed with people, we strolled the city at night without anyone stopping or even noticing us, we wore what we wanted and no one cared, we ate like hogs at the roadside stalls, we ran on the beach with sand sliding from under our feet and water splashing in our faces. It was freeing and liberating, a feeling we were always looking for in our hometown but now got the privilege of. Even in those penny pinching days, that was one of the best trips I ever took in my life and I am so glad I did because its been over a decade now and I still remember each and every emotion and experience I went through.
There were several highlights in that trip, but you know the one I will talk about here will be about food, right? Mumbai is just a treasure land when it comes to the food. Kind of a melting pot of so many cuisines for Mumbai also shelters people from all over India and the world. The food scene there clearly represents that diversity. Much like any other town or city in India street food stalls are the meeting points of people in the evening. Office goers making a pit stop before heading back home to retire, college and school kids sharing a laugh or two with friends, busy workers catching a breath for a few moments. These food stalls give them a spot for that and gives them some cheap but delicious food and that much needed comfort. Fills them up for a while and peps up to tackle the rest of the day. From vada pav to dosas to kulfis and kababs to parsi chai and bombay sandwich.
Yes Bombay Sandwich! Just a simple sandwich with layers of butter, simple chutney and vegetables but is hugely popular there and once you have a bite of one, by the roadside, amongst all the hustle and madness, you will know why. Pair with a sweet cardamom tea and you are set. A typical Bombay sandwich isn’t grilled but you will find several versions of it at the food stalls, restaurants and homes. I personally like this one the best. A crispy golden crust adds to the flavor of this simple sandwich.
Ingredients: Makes 2 sandwiches
4 slices of bread (white, wheat, multigrain anything is fine)
1 medium sized potato (boiled, peeled and sliced in circles)
1 small onion (peeled and sliced in circles)
1 medium sized tomato (sliced in circles)
1 medium beetroot (baked or boiled, peeled, sliced in circles)
1 medium sized bell pepper (Cored and sliced)
softened butter (to spread on the slices of bread)
1/4 cup hot cilantro chutney
1 tablespoon Chaat Masala
Salt to taste
Spread butter on one side of both the breads for a sandwich. Followed by a layer of hot cilantro chutney.
Place veggie slices on the bread one after the other.
Sprinkle chaat masala followed by salt. Place the other slice of bread on top to complete the layering of the sandwich.
Butter the outside of the sandwich breads.
Heat a grill or a panini maker. Grill the sandwich by pressing from top. Cook for 2-3 minutes on medium high heat until the sandwich has grill marks and the bread turn golden from the outside.
Transfer to a chopping block before serving. Cut the sandwich diagonally into two triangles. Serve hot with green chutney or tomato ketchup as a dip.