Haute sandwiches

Kathmandu :

Once John Montagu sat down to gamble, he wouldn’t get up, so a slice of meat

between two slices of bread kept him gambling and eating at the same time. Being the fourth Earl of Sandwich he gave his name in 1762 to this rather simple snack.

Fast forward to the other day when my niece Yasmin, my nephew Arniko home for their holidays from the United Shrubs of Bush joined Chef Narender and me at Hyatt’s Café to sample gourmet sandwiches.

The pepper and herb marinated steak sandwich came in a whole wheat and rye baguette and had multi tastes from the gentle pepper to onions in a slightly sharp teriyaki sauce (which Arniko loves) to the meat taste as a bonus.

“I love creativity; we chefs have to use it to make new tastes,” said Chef Narender adding, “For example take the Artichoke Croque Madam.”

And we did. We took it whole heartedly — Yasmin, Arniko and I, and it was the most unusual looking sandwich we have ever eaten. It was a giant omelette wrapped around bread with tangy pickled Artichoke. A delightful variation on the Croque Monsieur and an unusual Narender creation. Of the artichoke it is said it was good for elderly people and those of a phlegmatic and melancholy disposition (18th century) and it was also an aphrodisiac that the medieval Catherine de Medici ate too much, oft causing trots without a horse. Her libido, however, ran rampant.

“I like the idea of an artichoke salad with bread sides cooked in an omelette,” said Chef Narender. It could have come from the famous Nadia’s in Cambridge, UK, a sandwich shop described as ‘insanely debauched’.

From the sub-continent itself came the Chicken tikka masala sandwich, which was served in white oat and whole wheat bread stuffed with purple finely sliced or laccha onions, iceberg lettuce and mint

chutney holding the chicken tikka masala in a bouquet of tastes. Said Chef Narender, “In my favourite restaurant in India they serve chicken tikka masala with onions and a mint chutney, so I said to myself, why not to mix everything together”

Arniko reminded me that chicken tikka masala was Britain’s favourite food. It was discovered while making tandoori chicken, in the Moti Mahal restaurant in New Delhi in the 1950’s. Yasmin who is studying religion in America had a slightly other worldly experience as we all did biting into a little heaven.

When he wrote Oliver Twist in 1838, Charles Dickens made the first reference to fried fish. Just before that in 1837 in an American cookbook written by Elizabeth Leslie, the sandwich was introduced to America. Alas, it was a ham sandwich and not Chef Narender’s English good ole crumb-fried fish sandwich which is magical.

Done in English bread with lettuce and onions the crumbed fish is marinated in citrus juice instead of the traditional vinegar that is served with fried fish in England. Sesame seeds in the bread heighten the taste.

All the sandwiches came with fruit skewers of tart pineapples, sweet papaya and piquant oranges and ranch potatoes. And all the sandwiches came served by Amrit Kumar Dhimal, who patiently served us like a character out of Dickens.

Like Oliver Twist I asked for more, and Chef Narender asked us to eat 12 desserts. I settled for the beautifully boxed Hyatt praline chocolates created by Chef and like Yasmin and Arniko ate them slowly as a toast to Narender and the evening. Call 4491234.