I wrote this recipe for Better Homes and Gardens, India, for their ‘breadless sandwich’ challenge. It’s in their July issue if you want to grab a copy!

I contemplated lettuce wraps, veggie stacks, and polenta muffins for the base but they aren’t really sandwiches, are they? The real challenge here was to find a suitable substitute for bread without compromising on the substance and structural integrity of a sandwich. It has to feel like a sandwich.

I blended the cornmeal slightly to ensure that the grain cooks evenly while also retaining its nutty crunch. Unlike its flour based counterpart, these cornmeal waffles are loaded with texture. And you’d never know a vegetable was involved if it weren’t for the tiny green flecks of zucchini in it (much to the delight of every self-respecting picky eater out there!) For balance, there is a sweet and sour onion relish that comes together in minutes. So if you’ve been ‘wafflingover breakfast options, this is a really good way to up the ante.

(I made them as waffles because I thought they’d hold the fillings in better but if you don’t own a waffle iron, a griddle pan or a regular pan would work just finea cornmeal and zucchini pancake-fritter type thing).

*Photography by Lasakan Cholayil


Serves: 4 (makes 4 waffles)
  • 1 cup yellow cornmeal
  • ½ cup grated zucchini
  • 2 tbsp parmesan cheese
  • 3 tbsp melted butter
  • 2 large eggs
  • ¾ cup buttermilk
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Salt, to taste
  • 200 grams onions, julienned
  • 2 tsp demerara sugar
  • 2 ½ tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Salt, to taste
  • Tomato, ham/bacon, lettuce, fried egg, feta cheese (optional)
  1. First make the onion relish: pour olive oil in a pan over medium heat and sauté onions with a good sprinkle of salt until translucent;about 3-4 minutes (you don’t want it to sizzle and fry). Add the demerara sugar and balsamic vinegar and season with pepper.
  2. Cook the onions for 4-5 minutes stirring fairly frequently. Turn the heat down to a low simmer, clamp on a lid, and cook them for a further 5 minutes. Take the pan off the heat and set aside to cool slightly. Can be refrigerated at this stage and stored for up to a week.
  3. For the waffles: add the cornmeal to a blender and pulse until the texture resembles fine sand. Set aside.
  4. Gather the zucchini in a clean kitchen towel or muslin and squeeze to press out as much excess moisture from it as possible.
  5. Combine the cornmeal, zucchini, buttermilk, eggs, grated parmesan, baking powder, melted butter, salt, and pepper in a large bowl and mix with a wooden spoon or whisk until everything is well incorporated.
  6. Preheat your waffle iron as per manufacturer’s instructions. Coat with butter, oil, or nonstick spray as necessary. Ladle the batter in and cook the waffles until toasted and golden. Alternatively, you could use a griddle pan or a regular pan.
  7. To assemble: take one half of a waffle and place ham, lettuce, and tomato slices on top. Dollop some of the onion relish and sprinkle over feta cheese. Top with a fried egg and season with salt and pepper. Sandwich it with the other half of the waffle and serve immediately.
Cornmeal is also sold as ground corn. Not to be confused with corn flour.


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