Article

A Toast(ed) Affair

Some of the city’s finest profess their deep-rooted love for their favourite scorched slice – and how they like it. 
Picture Credit: Grandma's Cafe  
By Madhulika Dash

There is something deliriously satiating about a toast – yes, those lightly browned slices of bread. And it isn’t only about the taste, but it’s versatility. In fact, it is one of the few age-old innovations – food lore has it that the toast or toastum was invented by the Romans to preserve bread from spoiling, which easily makes it close to 2,000-year-old – that over the years has led to many immensely loved forms. Toasted sandwich, open sandwich and of course those Roman inspired Italian designed bruschetta. Imagine those perfectly toasted bread bits topped with some of your favourite - from chocolate, fruits, salads to even roast chicken or the eternal butter & honey or malai and sugar.

Little wonder that toast has, for long, become the common food language spoken by chefs and alike. It is today a grammar that everyone understands, love and can be really obsessed about. After all, here is a canvas that allows you to play with colours, in this case toppings, from the classic, common to the crazy. We asked some of the chefs how do they like theirs:

 

CHEF VIKAS SETH, CULINARY DIRECTOR, SANCHEZ
Love: Avocado Toast with smashed beet and Queso Fresco
“My first tryst with toast was the simple chutney version. It would be the best treat at home, of course garnished with a generous layer of kachumber. Not much has changed since then. I still like my toast with different texture and that tanginess. Like this avocado toast, which is often my go-to quickie meal. I use a sour dough bread for toast or a brioche, toast with a little olive oil and then layer it with whipped avocado, beets and queso fresco, which is made in-house. Alternatively, I love it with sour cream and salsa as well. The best way to have it is slight warm – when it literally becomes a flavour burst inside the mouth.” 
 

CHEF SHARAD DEWAN, REGIONAL DIRECTOR, FOOD PRODUCTION – THE PARK HOTELS
Love: Jackfruit toast with Green Apple Slaw
“Let me begin by confessing: I love toast, in all forms and works. Period. As a chef they often are my litmus test to a different kind of pairing. But like all chefs will agree, it is also our little indulgence in the kitchen. One of my absolute favourites this season is the play of sweet, savoury and crunch like the jackfruit toast with green apple slaw. While I like the version where the raw jackfruit is tossed in spices and cooked with slaw acting as a balancer, I simply love the one with sweet jackfruit and the tanginess of a freshly tossed green apple slaw.”

 

CHEF AVIJIT GHOSH, CORPORATE PASTRY CHEF, THE LEELA HOTELS
Love: Nutella French Toast 
“Of course, I like my toast sweet – and the one toast I absolutely dig is the French toast. Yes, the same toast that was invented by the Romans and not the French. And what I like about the toast is that it can be played around with. I can not only play with the spices but also the kind of pairing. I like mine with a dash of nutmeg, little Nutella paired with bananas, strawberries and any fruit of the season. It is delicious and makes for a brilliant all-day treat.”

 

CHEF ANIRBAN DASGUPTA, EXECUTIVE CHEF, HYATT REGENCY, PUNE
Love: Mushroom stew on toast
“The toast form I love the most is of course the buttered one – it’s the comfort food I always go to when I need to just taste a brilliant bread. But after that first time, I usually like to pair it with something more interesting, and things I would like to taste in a different format than the usual. One of my favourites these days is the Italian mushroom on toast. The velvety sauce soaks into the sour dough toast creating that perfect roasty bite.”

 

CHEF SHANTANU MEHROTRA, EXECUTIVE CHEF, INDIAN ACCENT 
Love: Malai Toast
“Without a speck of doubt the traditional Malai Toast: the one that was created by our mothers to give us as treat for those mid-meal hunger. Of course, I like to tinker with the classic every now and then adding a little texture foreplay to it, but then there is little to beat the mouthfeel and also the theatrics of watching the fluffed-up cream slowly disappear into the crevices of a hot toast with the sugar shine like little speck of silver. It is the ultimate indulgence.”

 

CHEF SHAMSUL WAHID , GROUP EXECUTIVE CHEF, IMPRESARIO 
Love: Naga Chilli Cheese Toast
“The fun of growing up in an age when cheese toast was in vogue is that it becomes your childhood favourite – and becomes your comfort food. Over the years, I have had the chance to reinvent the classic and even come up with few of my favourites. The one I like is the Naga Chilli Cheese Toast – my gourmet version of the conventional cheese toast and uses two different kinds of cheese (slice and sauce) with a sliced boiled egg and chicken adding the flavour punch. Stacked on top of each other, this tower toast makes for one hell of time travel to your childhood.”

 

CHEF DHIRAJ DARGAN, EXECUTIVE CHEF, COMORIN 
Love: Haleem Buttered Toast
“I like toast – no matter the topping or the bread. The thing that is important for me is the crunch factor that comes from toasting it well. Once that is done, you can pair it with anything- from delicious pav bhaji to the indulging kormas. It was with this image in mind – and the memory of having toast dipped in dal - that I created the Haleem Buttered Toast for Comorin during Eid, and it was a hit. In fact, it is one of the go-to toast during winters – and is a wholesome, satiating meal in too.”

 

CHEF HARANGAD SINGH, CORPORATE CHEF, PRAPRAPANK
Love: Channa Kulcha Donut
“Many people have asked me what the inspiration behind the ChannaKulcha Donut is, and I often said it is my take on the all-time favourite channakulcha served in my home. But not many people know that as a kid I enjoyed my channa with bread as well, especially those soft jumbo ones, which my mother would toast it just enough to have that brown colour and crunch. It soaked in all that masala making it one helluva a bite. It was with that idea I created the ChannaKulcha Donut with the carrot mousse playing the role of the gajjar ka achar that was often served with it.” 

 

CHEF RAVI TOKAS, EXECUTIVE CHEF, PRANKSTER
Love: Salli Egg Toast 
“If it has to be toast, it has to have egg on it! And when I say egg, I mean the whole nine yards of boiled, poached and a fluffy omelette. However, the one I absolutely dig is the Parsee style desi omelette made fluffy by whipping it well, topped with a layer of tomatoes and lots and lots of salli. It is my idea of indulgence on a toast. And trust me, it works better for my desi palate than a egg benedict.” 

 

CHEF MEGHA KOHLI, HEAD CHEF, LAVAASH BY SABY
Love: Sweet potato and Kalimpong cheese Pide
“Toast buttered with anything edible on top, the crazier the better: that has been the motto of much of my affair with toast, which has been almost my entire life. Now however, while I do love a well-done toast, I love playing with unconventional pairings, especially to understand food better. These days, I love my toast with sweet potato, kalimpong cheese and a little salad. The play of sweet, savoury and crunch makes it absolutely addictive. Of course, there is pide of the same combination as well on our menu, which is a taste stunner – but the toast is even better.”