When I was just a little girl, yes, I know that was a long time ago, have graduated to " my children ask their mother" line for a while now, Parle introduced the concept of serving Monaco biscuits with toppings. There were ads(usually the back cover of a magazine) where Monaco with varied toppings were displayed. They looked really appetizing and given our limited exposure then, exotic too.
They soon found their way into our home. We made ours with cheese( this was the pre- cheese slice era, so cheese cubes had to be painstakingly cut into thin slices), boiled potatoes, boiled eggs, tomatoes and sometimes with all of the above. Sis was usually entrusted with the task. Being the clumsier one, my job was to wait till she finished and then gobble up a few. The crunchy salted base and bland topping went quite well. Sis would add a sprig of coriander to add more color. I would be impatient for her to finish. The garnish could wait. I quickly figured out that it was best to pick a few from the first lot as the toppings got progressively smaller.
Any kind of base with some topping continues to be one of my favorite starter ideas. Though over the years both the base and the topping has changed.
Cream crackers, rice wafers etc. have replaced the good old Monaco. Boiled egg whites also serve as the base. Scoop out the yolk, add some milk, cheese, salt, pepper and pipe it back into the boiled and halved whites.
Toppings have ranged from cream cheese, hung curd, to tuna in mayo. In fact leftover sandwich filling works really well for the topping. I have often mashed up potatoes, spiced it up with green chillies, coriander, added a wee bit of cheese spread and used it to top canapes. Green, yellow and red bell pepper add color and flavor.
Have extended the idea of toppings to open toasts which incidentally is a great breakfast option. Grill the slice with the topping and serve hot. If feeling very self indulgent add some grated cheese and grill till the cheese melts.
Tomatoes on toast is really easy to make. It is very healthy too. Adding the mustard paste gives it an unusual flavour. You could also add some garlic. Use the leftover topping as a chutney or add to gravies.
Tomatoes on Toast
Tomatoes: 2/3, about half a tomato per toast
Mustard paste: 1 tsp(You could also used mustard powder, I used some mustard and khus khus paste)
Green chillies: 2(optional), chopped fine
Pepper powder: 1 tsp( try and use some freshly ground ones for that added flavor)
Red Chilli powder: 1/2 tsp
Sugar: 1/4th tsp
Salt: to taste
Olive oil: 1 tbsp
Green corriander: 1 tsp, chopped fine
Boiled sweet corn: Can add some to make a variation of the original.
Chop the tomatoes really fine. Microwave the tomatoes with the oil, sugar, salt and green chillies for about 3 minutes.
Mash up the tomatoes with some red chilli powder, pepper powder, mustard paste, green corriander and mix well.
Top over toast and serve hot.
This works well as a starter. If serving as a starter cut the bread toast into cubes. Alternately you could also pick up some ready to use bite sized garlic butter toast( these are very handy and stay well for close to a week). They form healthier bases( as compared to biscuits) for the topping.
If serving as a main course serve it with a chicken stew or soup. The spicy flavor compliments the bland taste of the soup.
Also goes as an anytime snack. Could add sauted mushrooms/boiled corn to make it more wholesome. Could even add some grated cheese and bake for a few minutes.
Bon Apetit and Happy Cooking!