OK, let’s get the disclaimers out of the way first. This is not good for you. This is not difficult. The ingredients are kind of mundane. But it is soooo good.
Cheese toast is one of the great snacks of my childhood and youth. Despite the fact that Indians don’t traditionally make Western-style cheese, during the British era one of the big dairies introduced a type of processed cheese that was shelf-stable and could survive the Indian heat. Hotels and clubs that catered to Europeans and Americans served this, and since we all loved it, it became a staple in some homes as well.
What sets it apart is the marriage of chiles and onions with mild cheese. The cheese is broiled and gooey and soft and then suddenly you get the tang of an onion or the bite of a tiny piece of chile.
You really need to use a boring cheese, like Cojack or mild cheddar or regular monterey jack (in the United States). But not Velveeta or American, because those don’t have the proper flavor.
1 1/2 cups grated cojack, mild cheddar or monterey jack cheese
3 Tbsp. finely chopped red or yellow onion, or scallions
3 Tbsp. soft butter
2 small serrano or 1 large jalapeno green chile, seeded and very finely chopped
Salt and pepper to taste
4-5 pieces sliced country-style white or sourdough bread, toasted
Mash the soft butter and incorporate the onions and chiles. Fold in the grated cheese. Add salt and black pepper to taste.
Spread the cheese mixture onto the toast. Grill under hot broiler until the cheese is melted and browned. Remove, cut into bite-sized pieces and serve.
Serves 2-4, depending on how much they like cheesy toast.
SUBSTITUTIONS: Obviously you can jazz this up with different kinds of cheese, or use red pepper instead of chiles, and you can substitute whole grain or wheat bread for white. If you like it that way, go for it! For me, the simple recipe is the best, but that’s because this is a food as sense-memory experience.