Imagine a tangier, spicier grilled cheese sandwich. There are so many interesting flavors and textures going on in this delicious dish: the crunchy bread works perfectly with the crisp curry leaves, the creamy yogurt, and the zing from the onions and cilantro. You'll never want a plain ol' grilled cheese ever again.
Technique tip: When making the mustard seed and curry leaf chhonk, immediately take the pan off the heat when the mustard seeds start to pop and keep your eyes on it — they can burn very easily if you're not watching carefully!
Swap options: My dad loves to swirl the ketchup and cilantro chutney together into a tangy-spicy super sauce. If you don't have Indian green chiles, serrano chiles will work well. You can also use yellow onion if you don't have a red onion, and a neutral vegetable oil will work if you don't have olive oil on hand.
Cilantro chutney (makes 1/2 cup)
- 1 bunch (about 4 cups) fresh cilantro, preferably organic, stems and leaves roughly chopped
- 1 small Indian green chile or serrano chile, roughly chopped
- 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice (from about 1 lime), plus more if needed
- 1/4 teaspoon granulated sugar
- 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more if needed
- 1/4 cup olive oil, plus more for cooking the toasts
- 1½ teaspoons black mustard seeds
- 3 sprigs (24 to 30 leaves) fresh curry leaves, stripped
- 1 cup low-fat plain Greek yogurt
- 1/2 medium red onion, finely diced
- 1/2 cup finely chopped fresh cilantro (stems and leaves)
- 2 small Indian green chiles or serrano chiles, finely chopped
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 pinch red chile powder
- 12 large slices white sourdough bread
- Ketchup, for serving (optional)
- Cilantro chutney, for serving (optional)
For the cilantro chutney:
In a blender, combine all the ingredients and blend until smooth. If the mixture is too thick to blend, add a few drops of water to get it going. Taste and adjust the salt and/or lime juice, if needed. Refrigerated in an airtight container, this chutney keeps for up to 2 days.
For the Dahi toast:
1. In a butter warmer or small pan over low heat, warm the oil. Once the oil is warm but not super hot, add the black mustard seeds and as soon as they begin to pop and dance around in the oil, which should be within seconds, remove the pan from the heat.
2. Add the curry leaves, making sure they get fully coated in the oil (there may be more popping and splattering, and that's okay!). The leaves should immediately crisp up in the residual heat. Set aside.
3. In a small bowl, mix together the yogurt, onion, cilantro, green chiles, salt, black pepper and red chile powder. Spread a thick layer of the yogurt mixture over 6 slices of bread and top each sandwich half with the remaining slices to make 6 sandwiches.
4. In a large pan over medium heat, warm 1 teaspoon oil. Once the oil begins to shimmer, reduce the heat to low and add as many sandwiches as will fit in the pan. Cook until the undersides are crisp and lightly browned, 3-4 minutes, then flip them over, adding another teaspoon of oil to the pan, and cook until the other side is crisp and slightly browned, 3-4 minutes more.
4. Transfer the sandwiches to a platter and repeat until all of the remaining sandwiches are cooked.
5. Divide the spiced oil mixture evenly over the top of the sandwiches. Cut each sandwich in half and serve immediately with a side of ketchup and/or chutney, if desired.