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Chai Pani Chefs on the Club Sandwich's Role in India

Chai Pani.
Chai Pani.
Photo: Flickr/DDanzig

It's Club Sandwich Power Hour here in Eater Atlanta's Greasy Spoons Week. We've talked about chefs' favorite club sandwiches and their club sandwich deal breakers, and now we head to Mumbai (by way of Decatur) to get the low down on how the sandwich plays out in India from our friends at Chai Pani. As a bonus, they're also running a Mumbai Club sandwich during lunch all week.

Here's executive chef and owner Meherwan Irani:
One of the culinary oddities in India is a predilection for tea sandwiches. It's a legacy of being a British colony for 150 years. Cucumber and butter sandwiches on white bread with the crust trimmed off is still a teatime standby in upper middle class homes. Even on the street, the club sandwich has become a mainstay, its most popular form the Mumbai vegetable sandwich. Like all things imported into India, it's barely recognizable from its western cousin, with green chutney, paneer, and spicy tomato ketchup adding "desi" flair to the more raucous Indian version.

While the club sandwich in the US has become more of a diner menu fixture, in India it's now a ubiquitous street snack and lunch for millions of students and office workers all over Mumbai.

And here are some club sandwich thoughts from chef de cuisine Daniel Peach and Mikey Files, art and brand director:
India was recognized as having the 'cheapest club sandwich in the world' last month. They were referring to the club sandwich that is available on all hotels' menus, with the typical bread with bacon, tomato, lettuce, etc... I think it was something like 500 rupees [approximately 8 US dollars], which is a very expensive sandwich by Indian standards.

I don't know why they recognized that one when you can get a club sandwich (also called Bombay toast sandwich) in Mumbai for like 20 rupees [34 cents] that tastes way better. It's vegetarian. They take the whitest of white breads and put butter and a spicy mint chutney on it, then add tomatoes, cucumber, onion, beetroot, boiled potato, and sometimes grated paneer. Then they slop the outsides with butter again and put it in a panini press and serve it with Maggi ketchup. You can get them all over Mumbai and some places are famous for making gigantic multi-layered ones. I love this sandwich because they took a plain old sandwich and made it chatpata and spicy and delicious..
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Chai Pani

406 West Ponce de Leon Avenue, , GA 30030 (404) 378-4030 Visit Website