As working from home becomes, once again, the new normal, thrifty, easy, comforting lunches are back in vogue. Nothing ticks all the boxes quite like a melty toasted cheese. While it is hard to make wrong, as long as you have a generous amount of cheese and bread – you are off to a good start, there is so much more potential that lies beyond the basics. We asked three of our OG chefs to share their tips and twists on how to take this classic to the next level.


Palash Mitra, New Punjab Club

I grew up in a very small town in India that had delicious local cuisine but no Western restaurants. The first time I tasted a sandwich was in 1998 when Ramu’s Corner, now an institution in my town, first opened. My favourite was the Manchurian Cheese Sandwich, made with Indian Cheddar, green chillies and spring onions on milk bread. The sandwich was pressed into a griddle before being toasted over an open flame and served with chilli ketchup. Now, my own version of grilled cheese definitely makes me feel nostalgic for that gooey, smoky, crispy bite I first had over 20 years ago.



100g mild Cheddar cheese, grated

1 pc green chilli, chopped 

1 pc spring onion, chopped

1/2 tsp garam masala 

1 tsp fresh coriander, chopped

2 pcs white bread 

Chilli Ketchup

2 tsp ketchup 

1 tsp chaat masala 

1/2 tsp chilli powder 


Mix your grated Cheddar cheese with the green chilli, spring onion, garam masala and coriander. Fill your two slices of bread with the mix and toast in a sandwich griddle over an open flame, or alternatively, brush the bread with melted butter and bake in an oven for 10 minutes at 150°C. For the dipping sauce, combine ketchup, chaat masala and chilli powder. Once the cheese melts and the bread is toasted, cut into four corners and serve with the chilli ketchup.  


Gizzy Alesbrook, Hotal Colombo

In Sri Lanka, we love grilled cheese any time of day! For us, the key is actually neither the cheese nor bread, but the sambal, a traditional chilli paste, that accompanies it. My favourite is Seeni Sambal, which is made of spiced caramelised onions. I always used to eat this with my grilled cheese sandwich, so when we started doing brunch at Hotal Colombo, it was first on the menu.



2 pcs crusty bread

4 pcs Cheddar cheese

3 tsp butter

Seeni Sambal (6-7 portions)

2-3 red onions, chopped finely 

2 tsp garlic, minced

2 pcs curry leaf 

2 pcs pandan leaf, sliced 

2 pcs cinnamon stick 

3-4 pcs dried chilli 

2 tsp chilli powder

2 tsp tamarind 

5 tsp brown sugar 

3-4 tsp oil

Salt to taste 


Seeni Sambal

Heat the oil in a frying pan on medium heat. Add the pandan leaf, cinnamon and dried chilli, and fry until fragrant, then add the onion, curry leaf and garlic. Once the onions soften, sprinkle in the brown sugar, chilli powder and tamarind. Cook until the colour is dark brown, the onions are totally caramelised and no liquid is visible. 


Melt butter in a new pan over low heat. Spread the Seeni Sambal over the bread and top with cheese. Toast the sandwich in the pan until the cheese is melted and bread is golden brown.


Billy Otis, Taqueria Super Macho

A good, old-fashioned grilled cheese sandwich, eh? There are many things that can be done to jazz one up, however, I believe you simply cannot beat a classic. The secret? Butter, butter and more butter – and make sure it is super high quality! Now, let’s talk cheese. I like to use one or two cheeses for flavour, along with a neutral melting cheese for texture. Finally, an essential part of the grilled cheese is the bread. For me, a classic can only be with white sandwich bread; it toasts well and has a mild taste so that it can soak up all the flavours.


90g butter

60g Provolone cheese

60g Gruyère cheese

60g sharp yellow Cheddar cheese 

2 pcs white sandwich bread


Place the cheese inside the bread whilst heating 30g of butter in a sauté pan on low heat. Gently lay your assembled sandwich in the pan, making sure the entire surface gets coated with butter. After 2 minutes, flip your sandwich and add another 15g of butter. Lift the corners of the sandwich and tilt the pan to ensure the sides are fully covered with butter. Let the bottom side toast for 1-2 more minutes and then flip once more. Add another 30g of butter and repeat the process with the remaining butter.


Looking for more comforting classics? Check out this Chicken Kothu recipe. For more easy fixes read up on our chefs’ go-to pantry dishes.

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