This grilled cheese was inspired by the grilled cheese sandwiches my mum would make for us when we were younger. She would always put different chutneys or spice blends into the sandwiches she packed for my lunch, but the chaat masala was always my favorite, so I wanted to make a “grown-up” version of my favorite childhood grilled cheese.
Chaat masala is a punchy, tangy, and savory Indian spice blend that is often used as a garnish in various street foods or over fruits and vegetables. It gets its tanginess from black salt and mango powder, along with other spices. You can find chaat masala at any local Indian store, and my preferred brand is MDH’s Chunky Chaat Masala.
I loaded this sandwich with chaat masala and jalapeños for a bit of a kick, and finished it off with a limbdi vaghaar topping that was inspired by Priya Krishna’s dahi toast recipe. A vaghaar is essentially the tempering of spices in hot oil to enhance their flavors, and vaghaars are usually done at the beginning of a dish to create a flavorful base or used as a topping (as I’ve done here). I love eating this sandwich with Maggi’s Hot and Sweet Chili Sauce or with a ketchup + sriracha mixture, but you can get creative and eat it with any chutneys or sauces of your choice or just on its own!
Chaat Masala Grilled Cheese
For the Sandwich
- ¼ tsp chaat masala
- 2 slices bread (I used sourdough)
- 2 slices sharp cheddar
- ½ fresh jalapeno sliced
For the Vaghaar
- ¼ tsp hing (asafoetida)
- ½ tsp rai (mustard seeds)
- ½ tsp jeera (cumin seeds)
- 1 tbsp limbdi (curry leaves)
- 1 tsp neutral tasting vegetable oil (I used avocado oil)
- Heat up a pan on medium heat
- Lay out two slices of bread of your choice and lightly butter each slice.
- Place a slice of cheddar cheese on each slice of bread on the non-buttered sides.
- Place the jalapeno slices and sprinkle the chaat masala on one of the bread slices.
- Place both slices together and grill on the pan on both sides until the sandwich is golden brown.
Vaghaar Topping Recipe
- Heat up 1 tsp of oil in a small pan on medium heat.
- When the oil is hot, add in the rai, hing, and jeeru and let them sputter for roughly 30 seconds (make sure they don't burn).
- Take the pan off of heat and let the oil cool for about a minute.
- Add in the limbdi while the oil is still warm and mix it around so it crisps up.
- Drizzle the oil and spices over the sandwich and serve while hot!
- Go easy on the butter when you make the grilled cheese so the sandwich doesn’t become overly greasy once you add the vaghaar topping (unless you’re into greasy sandwiches, then go for it!).
- If you want a spicier sandwich, use serrano peppers instead of jalapeño.
- You can use pickled jalapeño instead of fresh if you prefer, however I’ve found that pickled jalapeño can make the sandwich a little too acidic when combined with the chaat masala.
- Feel free to adjust the amount of spices to your liking but please don’t skip out on the vaghar topping, it really brings the whole sandwich together!
Enjoy and please leave any feedback or questions in the comments below!