Friday, January 23, 2009

Potato Sandwiches – what comes to your mind, Alsa Mall?

If you hail from Chennai and if you’re a food freak, you sure would have been to the corner shops near the popular Alsa Mall at Egmore. These little stalls are very famous for their sandwiches – masala (potato), cheese, omelet…

These sandwiches were also a part of our growing up diet. Mum used to make those potato sandwiches for us all the time. They used to be a big hit at school lunches and picnics, charity food stalls, excursions, parties. My cousin and I, yes the same one who is teamed with me here, sat during the Millennium New Year’s eve making about 50 of those sandwiches with two grillers, and not one was spared. My brother once sold 100 sandwiches in 15 minutes at our school’s alumni party.

And when I grew up and began eating out, I realized the Alsa Mall sandwiches were pretty much the same, except they had more variety. We almost always had the potato sandwiches as they were bigger hits than the traditional cheese ones. All you need is a good griller. Mum still has her Rowenta Sandwich Maker in good condition. But I guess she doesn’t use it as much these days.

After I reached the US, I had to shop for some kitchen gadgets which S had left to my discretion. Although I couldn’t find my favourite Rowenta, I found a smaller one for $10 and picked it up in a jiffy, and all the way home I was promising S his favourite Alsa Mall Sandwiches.I just made this snack today, but it is much healthier this time and you’ll see why.

Here’s what I needed to make it my way:
1.Sara Lee’s 45 Calorie Brown Bread – No compromise on taste!



4.Nutrela Protein Granules

5.Chilli Powder – Mum’s special homemade chilli powder.

6.Garam Masala

7.Kitchen King Masala – one of my favourite masalas

8.Green Chutney – I usually make my own, but we had a bottle of Bombay Sandwich Spread and I used that

9.Cumin, Corriander leaves, Oil, Salt

Here’s how I dished it up:
1.Cook the protein granules in hot water for 10 minutes, or in a microwavable bowl for 1.30 minutes. Let stand for 5 minutes after which you’ll have to strain them, and squeeze out the excess water. Protein granules have the tendency to blend with any dish and have a chewy consistency, somewhat like chicken. It is considered by many to be the vegetarian’s alternate to chicken.

2.Pressure cook the halved potatoes. Peel them and mash them up.

3.Chop the onions finely.

4.In a nonstick pan, heat about ½ teaspoon of oil and toss in the cumin followed by onions cooking them till they’re translucent.

5.Add the mashed potatoes, salt, chilli powder, kitchen king masala and just give it a stir over low heat. We don’t want to cook this till it loses its raw smell since it’s going to get grilled in any case. But make sure you don’t overdo the masalas or chilli powder or you will have to cook it longer.

6.Finally sprinkle the garam masala and give it a stir along with chopped coriander leaves.There’s no single way to make your potato filling. You can make it however you like. Mum’s potatoes were a little different from what I have mentioned here, they were spicier. But I just wanted to go easy and light and make this healthy. More spices means more cooking and perhaps some more oil. This was pretty much like mashed potatoes with a dash of our Indian masalas. I have made it spicy too.

7.Spread the green chutney on one slice and the potato filling on another. Cover it up and grill it till it gets as crispy as you want it to be, but make sure not to burn it down.

8.Serve with sauce or eat it just like that.

S, during his bachelor days in the US (that was a mere 4 months), had tried some version of Nutrela and didn’t like it. But I recently made a dish with it and he gobbled it up pretty fast. Nutrela is not something you eat plain cooked. It is always thrown into dishes which have a main flavour, and it absorbs those flavours and blends into the food like tiny protein rich spies that are going to do you nothing but good.

This was our evening snack today with a cup of hot coffee, while we were watching a programme on Sandwiches on the Food Network Channel.


  1. Looks yummy but never tried with nutrella ever on a sandwhich. I rem during my preg days i wanted to have the potato sandhwich that manni made......rem?

  2. Oh Nutrela is good dee, 100 percent protein and nothing else. It tastes chewy, somewhat like idichakka thoran, I mean the consistency. You get nuggets too which you can put in gravies. I remember us making that sandwich almost everyday during our summer hols, remember? :)

  3. good one rumsie,and just give the varieties option s too here, like the cheese sandwich (using the cheese slices) which raja loves, veggie sandwich and that fruitand jam sandwich we tried once.Remember? it came out so well and i am sure kids will love it esp with the variety of fresh and dried fruits that are available there. Give it a try

  4. oh yeah i remember making dozens and dozens ofém when you kids will be around during summer holidays. I remember one time when i asked prabhu, hey how many you ate today and he promptly answered,''naan enna ve illiye!!!!!:)) {meaning ,he didnt count at all}

  5. Yeah mom, the variety is huge. For people who eat non-veg, there are options like cheese and slices of meat too, I haven't tried that though :)