I always wanted to open a sandwich shop. If my post-teen years weren’t spent busying myself with Milton and Keats, I would probably be at a take-out window in a grease-stained apron, handing out brown paper sandwich bags for a few hours everyday. A part of me still aches after the dream (I had conceptualised close to 30-odd sandwich combinations and I would call them “spankwiches”), but it’s a tough industry to break into and the initial investment alone would be a massive hit to my bank balance that usually runs negative. That being said, I’ve collected and tested a whole lot of condiment recipes over the years before zeroing in on the ones that I would smear over an evenly cut slice of fresh bread. Here are some of my favourites:
I know that a lot of you are fond of the plastic bottled stuff and couldn’t be bothered with making a batch of mayonnaise, but just think about the forearm exercise you’ll be getting! Not just that, you’ll also be able to adjust the mustard and vinegar in the mayo as per your liking. I like mine with a bit of sugar in it, but I know people who think I’m gross because of it. Another thing you will find if this is your first time making mayo is how much oil goes into it. Much like the occasional Tinder date, looks can be deceiving. Now I use regular vegetable oil for my mayo because I’m not fancy enough to make it with other fruitier oils. Just promise me you wont make mayo in a hurry, because that’s exactly when you’ll fuck it up.
I’ve also included four different flavoured mayo combinations below that are pure magic. If you’re worried you won’t know how to use them, feel free to ask.
INGREDIENTS to make 2 cups
Egg Yolks 1
White vinegar 1 tbsp
American mustard 1 tbsp
Salt 1 tsp
Sugar 1 tsp
Vegetable Oil 1 1/2 cup, more or less (you can swap the 1/2 cup for an extra virgin olive oil here if you like)
First things first, make sure you have a dry and cleanglass bowl, a damp cloth, a whisk, and your yolks at room temperature.
Add your yolks, the mustard, vinegar, sugar and salt to the dry glass bowl and whisk it together. Now listen up, you want to keep the bowl over a damp cloth to steady it, then using a measuring cup and your left hand, drop-by-drop add the vegetable oil from a height and whisk it with your right. Keep doing this until you begin to see a steady mayonnaise consistency start to form, then you can add the oil freely. When all the oil has been incorporated, taste for more salt or sugar, as per your taste.
If your mayo splits, you’ll know immediately, and it’s because you added a lot of oil in the beginning. You can remedy this by adding a tablespoon of water into your bowl and whisking like crazy. It should come together. Don’t be disheartened if it didn’t work out the first time. A mayo takes some practice, but once you’ve aced it, you’ll be able to make a lot of different mayos- an anchovy mayo, a green mayo with chopped herbs, a curried mayo etc. It’s also great practice if you want to learn how to make hollandaise. Here are four pretty simple flavour hacks to up your mayo game:
Kashundi and Sweet Chilli Mayo
It’s such a cool combination that you’ll beat yourself up for not discovering it sooner. Stir in 2 tbsp Kashundi mustard (Bengali mustard) and 1/4 cup sweet chilli sauce into 1 cup of mayo. Adjust with more kashundi, if you can handle the heat.
Dried shiitake mushroom powder is the world’s new ajinomoto. For 1 cup of mayo, pulse 5 small dried shiitake mushrooms or 4 big ones till it has become a fine powder. Add this to the mayo and adjust the salt with a dash of fish sauce (or alternately, some Himalayan rock salt). I also added a few chilli flakes for batch number 2, when testing. Let it sit in the refrigerator for a few hours to develop a really nice umami flavour.
Dhungari or Smoked Mayo
Dhungar or charcoal smoke gives everyone’s favourite flavoured mayo a total facelift. A simple combination of mustard, mayo and ketchup combined in equal parts with some honey (optional) for sweetness is how you begin. Add a dash of lemon juice. You then want to prepare a dhungar with a hot charcoal placed in a piece of foil, and when a tablespoon of ghee or butter is dropped over it, the resultant smoke must be trapped in the vessel holding the mayo, so cover it for 3-5 minutes at least. Fish out the dhungar package and taste the mayo.
Pho Mayo (this one is THE BOMB)
I found a recipe for this from A Super Upsetting Cookbook About Sandwiches and built on it a bit more. This Vietnamese condiment is my new favourite thing to drizzle over roast chicken. Thank you Tyler Kord. Begin by roasting half a white onion and half a knob of ginger, cut into 2 on an open flame till well charred on all sides. Combine this together with 1 star anise, 1/2 cinnamon stick, 1/2 tsp coriander seeds, 1/2 tsp fennel seeds, 2 cloves and blitz this mixture. Add this to 1 cup mayo, and run it through a sieve. Salt it with himalayan salt or add a dash of fish sauce instead and 1 tbsp jaggery sugar to finish.
Hot Hot Harissa
I didn’t want to include just mayo recipes in this post. I keep a lot of other stuff handy in my refrigerator too. Take my harissa, for instance- it’s made with limbu ki achar and it’s so hot and SO inauthentic, it would infuriate any Tunisian, but I’m sure they’ll love it all the same.
Grind and taste the following: 200g fresh red chillies, 4 garlic cloves, 2 tbsp coriander powder, 1 1/2 tbsp cumin powder and 2 whole small Indian preserved lemons (Indian limbu ki achar), plus a good glug of olive oil. You can up the garlic in the recipe too, if you like.
I called Toum, garlic chutney my whole life and I have the local shawarma place to blame for it. I love that oily, garlicky condiment on just about anything, and it doesn’t matter if I have terrible garlic breath later. You will need 1/4 cup garlic cloves,2 tbsp lemon juice or 1 tbsp lime juice, salt and 1 cup of vegetable oil that has been chilled in the freezer for 30 minutes. The process for this is a lot like when we make instant mayo at home. You need a hand blender and the jar that comes with the hand blender because those jars are magically the exact size you need to make this. If you don’t have this jar, there’s a chance you could mess this up. Anyway, add the 1/4 cup of garlic cloves, lemon juice, 1/4 cup of the chilled vegetable oil, 1 tbsp of ice cold water and a pinch of salt to the jar and position your hand blender on top. Count to ten and blitz this mixture without lifting the machine. Once everything is blended well, you want to pour 1/2 cup of the cold oil slowly with the hand blender still running. BY now you waill have noticed a cloud forming at the base and slowly making its way to the top. WIthout disturbing this growing cloud too uch you want to start gently lifting the hand blender moving up and down to let some of the oil above into the cloud to aid the formation ofthe toum. Add the remaining 1/4 cup of oil again slowly and by now the cloud will be a stubborn thick mass. Use 1 tbsp of ice cold water again to loosen it up slightly and voila! Toum.
Instead of a ready jar of pasta sauce in your refrigerator, opt to keep a packet of washed and cleaned mixed herbs ahead of time. I do this almost two days in advance and use it in some way or the other. For the salsa verde, you will need one fistful each of parsley, mint, dill, coriander and 4-5 spring onions. I combine this and keep ahead of time.
Right before I toss it through noodles, I blitz the herbs together with 2 tbsp capers, 1 bird’s eye chilli, 4 garlic cloves, 3-4 tbsp of olive oil and the juice of an entire lime. Season with salt. I stir it through hot strings of freshly drained spaghetti at 3AM, clumsily grate over some parmesan, and sit down to nurse my very tipsy self.