Serves 4

I will never understand how avocado became the most famous of the toasts, when chili cheese toast exists. This isn’t to say that avocado toast isn’t delicious, but the combination of cheese, green chiles, and chaat masala is unrivaled—­I want to eat it for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

Many versions (including this one) feature tiny pieces of bell pepper folded into the melty cheese, which gives the dish a nice texture. (You can leave these out if you hate bell peppers!) I like to slather my bread with cream cheese before adding the other toppings because of the creaminess it brings to the toast. I also use pickled jalapeños because they’re milder, and that pickled flavor complements everything here so well.


  • 2 tablespoons cream cheese or whipped cream cheese, at room temperature

  • 4 slices white sandwich bread

  • 1/2 cup shredded cheese (mozzarella + cheddar is ideal)

    TST-Amrikan Book Cover Amrikan: 125 Recipes from the Indian American Diaspora Khushbu Shah
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped red onion

  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped red bell pepper

  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped green bell pepper

  • 6 to 8 pickled jalapeños, finely chopped

  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh cilantro

  • 1 tablespoon Chaat Masala (see below)

  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

  • 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano or Italian seasoning

  • Ketchup, for serving

Ingredient Note

As for the cheese, I prefer a blend of ­mozzarella and cheddar, but use any cheese that you like, as long as it melts well. Make sure to shred the cheese yourself. Pre-­shredded cheeses are often coated so they do not clump, but this coating can sometimes prevent it from melting.

Freezer Note

This does not freeze well.


Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.

Spread 1/2 tablespoon cream cheese evenly across each slice of bread and place on the prepared baking sheet.

In a small bowl, combine the shredded cheese, onion, bell peppers, jalapeños, and cilantro and mix well. Stir in the chaat masala, garlic powder, and oregano. Divide the cheese mixture evenly between the slices of bread, spreading it evenly across the cream cheese mixture.

Bake the toasts for 7 to 9 minutes, until the cheese is melty and the bread is crispy. Cut each toast into 3 strips or 4 triangles. Serve with ketchup for dipping.

Chaat Masala

Makes about 2 cups

  • 1/2 cup cumin seeds

  • 1/2 cup amchur

  • 1/4 cup kala namak (black salt)

  • 1/4 cup Kashmiri red chili powder

  • 1/4 cup table salt

  • 1/4 cup ground black pepper

Ingredient Note

You could purchase a chaat masala blend in stores. I like the mix from MDH or ­Everest. Making your own blend doesn’t take dramatically more effort though.

Storage Note

When stored in an airtight container in a cool, dark place, chaat masala can last for at least 6 months, if not longer. Do not freeze the spice mix, as sometimes the flavor can change.


You know that person you always invite to a party simply because they make any room they are in fun? This is the spice blend version of that friend. “Chaat” means “to lick,” and chaat masala is a great way to add zip and zing to a dish. It’s the ingredient that makes you smack your lips together trying to figure out what gives the dish its flavor. It’s key to so many recipes throughout this book, including Masala Deviled Eggs (page 73), Masala Roasted Garlic Bread (page 261), and Pani Puri Mojito (page 273). It’s even delicious just sprinkled over a bowl of freshly cut fruit, or stirred into some yogurt for a quick raita.

Chaat masala gets its distinct flavor from kala namak (black salt), which has a slightly sulfuric funk that makes things delicious, but you can’t quite tell how or why. It also has some amchur (dried mango powder) to bring a nice pucker, and Kashmiri red chili powder for the gentle heat.

In a small saucepan, toast the cumin seeds over low heat while stirring constantly. Keep moving the cumin seeds around until they start to darken and smell super nutty, about 1 minute. Transfer to a spice grinder or mortar and pestle and crush the seeds into a powder.

In a jar, combine the cumin powder with the amchur, kala namak, chili powder, salt, and black pepper. Stir until well combined. Transfer to an airtight container and seal well. 

Reprinted with permission from Amrikan: 125 Recipes from the Indian American Diaspora by Khushbu Shah (W. W. Norton & Company, 2009). By permission of the author.

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