This chicken liver sandwich was (close to) three decades in the making

Chicken liver and sourdough sandwich with espresso for breakfast this morning at home in Mumbai


Leftovers in Kolkata


Mondays, when I was in high school and later in college, meant chicken liver sandwiches in my tiffin box.

We didn’t buy just leg pieces of chicken, or chicken wings, back then as we usually do now. My mother would send tme o the local Bansdroni Market in Kolkata on Saturdays to buy a whole chicken. It would be culled and dressed and cut into pieces after I bought it. A jhol (curry) would be made by our cook or by my mother with it. Potatoes and boiled eggs would be added to the curry. For the same reasons that Nawab Wajid Ali's cooks are said to have added potatoes to the Lucknowi biryani when he came to Kolkata. To make the food stretch!

His descendants contest that today, but then a lot of water has flown down the Hooghly since then.  

Saturday night at home would be eggs, potatoes and a few spare parts such as the neck and gizzard of the chicken from the curry. Usually had with roti. Made by our cook. Or brought in from the tonduri/ rumali ruti stall at the pavement outside. Or sliced bread. My mother cannot make rotis and nor can I. My granny makes excellent ones. She had learnt how to do so in Delhi I guess but did not teach my mother how to do so it seems. My grandparents wanted her to focus on her studies. Just as my mother wanted me to do on mine. Mr Dolittle (from Pygmalion) would be shocked to know that that is the Bengali middle class way of thinking.

Sunday lunch at home in Kolkata would be chicken and potatoes from the murgir jhol (chicken curry), with the drumsticks being distributed between my brother, mother and me by rote. We would have this with rice.

I would make a sandwich with the liver from the curry, wand butter and white sliced bread on Sunday night. Usually Modern bread. Amul butter. occasionally Vijaya or Britannia. Salted butter of course. That would be my tiffin on Monday which I was in high school and in college after that. Occasionally with a few tiny bits of process Amul (or Britannia) cheese cut from a cube.

And In Mumbai


I remembered that today when I had a sandwich made with sourdough toast, and the liver chicken masala that our cook Banu made yesterday. With some hung curd spread on one slice and some pecan nuts added in. I paired it with an espresso made with beans from Colombia. 

Not that I had heard of sourdough, hung curd or pecan nut back then! Or even an espresso for that matter. Just the 'expresso' served in weddings in the 80s and 90s and movie theatres too, cranked out from a machine that then looked as fascinating as a UFO to us. The 'expresso' was a frothy milky sugary concoction that had as much to do with the espresso, as the Italian seloon of Kolkata had to do with Italy.

For the uninitiated, eet in Italian seloon referred to bricks and to itinerant barbers who would cut your hair or give you shave, while you sat on a brick that they would place on the footpaths of Kolkata. A piece of life in Kolkata which got immortalised in the city's slang.

Memories of my Kolkata chicken liver sandwich tiffins went into this. The bread is from La Folie,
Bandra. The plate from The Little Details & the mat from Paradise Road, Sri Lanka


The sandwich hit the spot today and made me smile. K had put it together. Under my strict instructions. 

She liked it too though she said she is no stranger to liver sandwiches. Being a Parsi, she loves chicken liver and right from our early days of our marriage, I would often get a pack of chicken liver from the meat shops of Bandra and make it for her. This was different from Bansdroni in the 90s, where there would be only one liver piece in a chicken and not packs of liver sold separately.

Talking of liver sandwiches, I had a lovely liver with toast at Koshy's in Bengaluru for breakfast earlier this year.

Now tell me, do you have any memories of tiffins that you would put together for yourself when you were in school. I would love to hear of them.

 Posts which could also be of interest:

  1. My Sunday chicken curry/ murgir jhol recipe
  2. Bansdroni Bazar
  3. Koshy's breakfast


Comments

Unknown said…
My school and college tiffin box was typical Tambram stuff....Idlis generously smeared with molagapodi and gingelly oil, or dosai, Chapati and potato subzi but devoid of onions and garlic! Bread was rarely bought and on occasions when it was, half of the loaf would languish in the fridge till hard and tasteless! My Mom was a teacher who also took tuitions at home. So cooking well with care was not high on the priority. On the other hand I have been a homemaker once my first son was born. They've been pretty lucky to have had very interesting lunchboxes! And they do appreciate it vocally!
Kalyan Karmakar said…
@unknown> I hear you :) my mother was a college prof who had to travel long distances so i used to fix my own tiffins. Bread, butter and cheese. It's through a south indian classmate in school like you in Kolkata that I first learnt of uthapa