Nuzha Ebrahim has only recently learnt what a “cheese skirt” means (it’s when cheese escapes from between the breads and sizzles on the pan to surround the slices in a crispy brown…skirt). She’s nerding out on sandwiches because she’s just launched The Fromagerie, a grilled cheese sandwich company.
We spot Nuzha at Sofar Sounds, her first pop-up, where she’s dishing out chilli cheese toasts. Basic, you think? These are nothing like their Udupi cousins. “We put a little mushroom in there to for a forest-y flavour. Plus onions, peppers, and a mix of four kinds of cheese – mozzarella, Emmenthal, Gouda and a little bit of Parmesan – a hint of green chillies and spices,” Nuzha tells us. To pack extra flavour into the mushrooms, she dehydrates them in the oven before blitzing it into the mix.
Chilli cheese toasts are the gateway drug to Nuzha’s roster of sandwiches, all focused on cheese, which she currently imports. She uses subtly sweet pain de mie for veggie sandwiches and buttery brioche buns for the meaty variety, both sourced from Magazine Street Breads. Her personal favourite is a version with caramelised onions, mushrooms, thyme and Emmenthal. “We’ll occasionally add a ragout of lamb,” she notes.
Nuzha promises to ease you into the idea of sweet sandwiches at her next pop-up, with a blueberry, spinach and Camembert version – she’ll even slap on some turkey and ham if you like. And as we enter strawberry season you can also expect “dessert sandwiches” with a fistful of strawberries, ricotta, basil and hazelnut crumble.
Born To Be Brie
The 27-year-old IHM graduate has covered a spectrum of cuisines through the establishments she’s worked with. As an intern at JW Marriott, she recalls being responsible for vegetable prep. “I’d peel 60 kgs of onions every day and smelled of onions for a good month after that.” The kitchens of 212, Indigo, and Guppy By Ai put her through her paces.
Her experience gave this introvert the confidence to stand before the judges of Fox Life’s TV show Grilled – think Shark Tank but for food entrepreneurs, helmed by Sarah Todd, Riyaaz Amlani and Vishal Dadlani. A friend tagged her on a Facebook post seeking entries; about the same time, the idea for The Fromagerie had taken root. “For the longest time I didn’t hear from them, a day before filming someone dropped out and I was in,” she says, recalling her serendipitous entry. “The judges loved my sandwiches. That’s when I felt maybe I am doing something right.”
For now, you can find her at pop-ups like the next edition of The Stylecracker Borough on November 25 at the Mahalaxmi Race Course and Flea-Fly-Flu on November 11-12 at Wilson Gymkhana. Alternatively, she can fuel your next house party with a DIY kit of portioned out ingredients, since the toasts don’t travel well – Cheese Toast by Post, she likes to call it.
Cheesy? Sure, but still delish.
Getting there: Contact The Fromagerie at 9819-445-721, a chilli cheese toast for costs Rs 250 a pop.
This story was contributed by Sonam Savlani a fashion and culture writer who has written for ELLE, Vogue and Grazia.
Photo credit: Lemillindia.com
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