The Beer Lover's Table: Indian-Spiced Grilled Cheese Toasties and Baron Brewing Betty & Bean Pale Ale

You can never go wrong with a grilled cheese toastie, but there are definitely ways you can go even more right.

A mix of several cheeses is a good start. Pick a selection with different attributes, some which melt especially well and some which impart more robust flavour. You’ll want good bread, too: Pre-sliced bread is all well and good, but I like the crunch, the structure and the tang of a good sourdough loaf (but don’t slice it too thickly, as the cheese inside might struggle to melt). And finally, you’ll need something to cut through all that richness – some acidity, herbal freshness, allium pungency or all of the above. And that’s where this sandwich vaults beyond simple tastiness to achieve greatness.

This particular grilled cheese toastie follows all of the above principles, stuffed as it is with a mix of fresh mozzarella, mature cheddar and feta, and sprinkled with finely diced red onions. But it’s the addition of a fresh and spicy Indian green chutney, as well as a garnishing tadka – a selection of spices cooked in hot oil (here, black mustard seeds and curry leaves) – that really make this sandwich. The result combines two terrific recipes: Priya Krishna’s dahi toast (minus the yoghurt filling) and Maunika Gowardhan’s Bombay chilli cheese toasties (absent the potato and with way more cheese) into one new favourite.

Of course, this simple pleasure is even better with a good beer on the side, and I can’t think of a better option than Baron Brewing’s Betty & Bean Pale Ale. Made with chit malt, wheat and oats for haze and body, and brewed using two newer hop varieties (Bru-1 and HBC 586, which lend it a fleshy cantaloupe flavour, as well as notes of pineapple, mango and guava), this pale ale is bursting with vivid tropicality. Its aromatics perfectly complement the herbal green chutney and the Indian spicing, and it also serves to temper the richness of all that cheese.

Grilled cheese toasties and beer are simple pleasures – but as this pairing shows, they can also be so much more than that.

Indian-Spiced Grilled Cheese Toasties
Makes 4 sandwiches
Adapted from Priya Krishna and Maunika Gowardhan

For the green chutney:
50g fresh coriander leaves
30g fresh basil leaves
1-2 bird’s eye chillis, minced (depending on your spice preference)
Juice of 2 limes
1-2 tablespoons sour cream
1 teaspoon caster sugar
1 teaspoon ground coriander
Flaky sea salt, to taste

For the tadka:
3-4 tablespoons olive oil
1 ½ teaspoons black mustard seeds
20-30 fresh curry leaves

For the sandwiches:
8 large slices sourdough bread (relatively thinly sliced)
2 mozzarella balls (packed in brine), drained, patted dry and roughly shredded
200g grated/crumbled cheese (I used a mix of mature cheddar and feta)
1 red onion, finely diced
4-5 tablespoons ghee

1. First, make the green chutney. In a blender or food processor, add all of the ingredients and blend for several minutes, pausing to wipe down the sides with a spatula if needed, or until uniformly blended. You should have a thick paste; add 1-2 tablespoons cold water if needed. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary. Set aside.

2. Next, prepare the tadka. In a small frying pan, add the olive oil and place over medium-low heat. Once warm, add the mustard seeds. As soon as they start to sputter and pop, turn off the heat and add the curry leaves (careful, as they may spit). Swirl so the leaves are evenly coated in the oil, and then set aside.

3. Next, prepare your first sandwich. On one of the slices of sourdough bread, spread a generous layer of the chutney. Top with ¼ of the shredded mozzarella and the prepared cheese, and sprinkle over ¼ of the diced red onion. Place another piece of sourdough on top and press down snugly. Repeat with the remaining sandwiches.

4. To cook your sandwiches, place a large frying pan over medium-low heat and add 1-2 tablespoons of ghee. Once melted, add your first 1 or 2 sandwiches (depending on how much space you have in your frying pan) and cook for 3-4 minutes on the first side, until golden brown. Carefully flip and cook for 3-4 minutes, or until golden brown, on the reverse.

5. Once evenly browned, cook for 1-2 minutes more, flipping your sandwich(es) regularly and pressing down with the spatula, or until you can see any melted cheese seeping out the sides. Transfer to a cutting board and repeat with the remaining sandwiches. (To keep your sandwiches warm while you prepare the rest, you may wish to transfer them to an oven on very low heat in the meantime.)

6. To serve, drizzle the tadka mixture over the sandwiches. Slice each in half and serve right away, while still hot.

Claire M. Bullen is a professional food and travel writer, a beer hound and all-around lover of tasty things. You can follow her at @clairembullen. For more recipes like this, sign up to our HB&B All Killer No Filler beer subscription - you'll receive Claire's recipe and food pairings, plus expert tasting notes, with 10 world-class beers like this one every month.