Kati Roll-Kolkata Style

This post was featured in Oliver Thring’s weekly round-up. Oliver Thring writes for the Guardian and iStarvin’.

“Always keep some whipped butter next to the sink,” Aunty Bhupinder tells me as I lament over my dry hands after my move to Toronto. “Once you’re done with cooking,” she continues, “wash your hands and smear a little bit of whipped butter all over them.” Following the advice of someone I love like a grandmother, I slather some whipped butter on my hands. But in vain. Aunty Bhupinder’s hands are soft; like cake batter before it goes into the oven. No amount of whipped butter will soften mine up like hers.

As school-going children in Nairobi, while our parents were traveling, we would stay with Aunty Bhupinder and her husband. Upon our request, every night she would make us parathas and dal, with her mother’s secret mix of garam masala. The same garam masala she still brings back from Delhi for me every year, even though her mother is no longer with us. Our cook would come every night, lovingly, to ask if we wanted him to prepare us a meat-based dish; but we only wanted Aunty Bhupinder’s vegetarian food. Just before dinner we’d peek into her prayer room and watch her kneeling next to the Guru Grant Sahib, head covered in a chiffon dupatta, wondering when she’d be down in the kitchen to spoil us and prepare the flaky parathas and dal tempered with spiced butter.

The Golden Temple, Amritsar, India- from www.wayfaring.info

It is these same hands which I have seen rolling dough for a paratha since I was a child. On each wrist she wears a thick golden bangle, with two elephant heads joining each bracelet together, and in her ears are diamond studs. Her hair is pinned back neatly in a bun, like a swiss roll sliced thin. A rust-hued lipstick, her eyes deep set and beautiful, her eyelashes glossy and long; belying her age.

As I sit on the table in her white kitchen in Washington DC, I watch Aunty Bhupinder as she rolls the dough for the paratha, forming it into a snake-like coil then folding it repeatedly to get those papery thin layers. Every few minutes she turns her head, her hands working the dough and says, “Shayma, please have some orange juice…can I get you some fruit?” I smile and walk towards the fruitbowl in the dining room.

Like a grandmother to me, I know better than to refuse her offer.

She carefully places each paratha, or ‘paronthees’ as she calls them, on a plate, the omelette clinging to it, all unctuous and golden.  Specially for me. She knows her kati rolls are among one of my favourite dishes prepared by her.

And on goes the spiced chicken, with a drizzle of jade-green mint chutney; paudinay ki chutney

Then some fresh onions for crunch; tomatoes (her addition, not traditionally added in Kolkata); green chilies for heat; and fresh cilantro for freshness.

The ultimate street food-snack…rolled up…

Cut in half…

Ready for tucking into…

We end the meal with a cup of tea, into which she adds a pinch of ground whole cardamom powder, brought back from Delhi. I leave Washington DC, always, with a ziploc containing the pistachio green, fragrant powder.

With my maternal and paternal grandmothers long gone, I am grateful to still have one with me, Aunty Bhupinder.

Serves 4
You will need parathas or chapatis. I use store-bought parathas.
For mint chutney- in a blender, puree a bushel of mint with some water, salt and 1 green chili. Mix this with some yoghurt for paudinay ki chutney, which is what we use for the kati roll.

Ingredients:
4 chicken thighs or legs (use dark meat)
1 cup yoghurt
1 tsp salt
1 tsp garam masala
1 tsp minced garlic (or garlic paste from the jar)
1 tsp minced ginger (or ginger paste from the jar)
Small bushel of chopped, fresh coriander leaves and stems (enough for the chicken marinade, omelette and for garnishing the kati roll. Use proportions as you please.)
2+2 tiny green chilies, chopped
1/2 tsp freshly cracked black pepper
1/2 tsp tandoori masala (in powder form, not paste)
2 tbsp + 4 tsp corn oil (or any other neutral oil)
4 parathas (or chapatis)
4 eggs
1/2 tsp red chili powder
Pinch salt
1 medium onion sliced into thin rings
Mint chutney (paudinay ki chutney)
2 medium tomatoes sliced thin, into disks

Preparation:
Step 1: Prepare the pulled-chicken:
*In a large bowl, add yoghurt, garam masala, garlic&ginger paste, fresh coriander, 2 chopped green chilies, salt, cracked black pepper and tandoori masala powder with chicken thighs.
*Marinate 3-5 hours or preferably, overnight.
*Place a pan over medium-high heat with 2 tbsp oil. Add chicken plus the marinade.
*Allow to cook, uncovered, for 20 minutes. When the chicken has absorbed all the juices and is almost dry, take off the flame.
*Remove meat from bones, shred by hand and set aside.

Step 2: Prepare the paratha and omelette:
*Beat 4 eggs with red chili powder, pinch salt (to taste) and chopped cilantro.
*Bear in mind that you will be making 4 omelettes, respectively, for each kati roll.
*Place a non-stick frying pan on medium heat. The diameter of the pan should be the same as your paratha or chapati.
*Add 1 tsp of oil per omelette, to the pan.
*Slowly pour in 1/4 of the egg mix and swirl, to cover the pan. As soon as you see that the bottom of the omelette is set and the top is still soft and custard-like, place the the paratha on top, it will cling to the omelette.
*Gently insert a spatula underneath the omelette and flip it over. Let the paratha bronzen a bit, then remove from flame. The omelette will be clinging to the paratha now.

Step 3: Assemble kati roll:
*In a plate, place the paratha with the omelette side up.
*Add pulled-chicken, then dot with some mint chutney.
*Add onions, tomatoes, coriander and chopped green chillies. Drizzle some more mint chutney on top.
*Roll and eat warm.

If you are preparing these for a crowd, you can prepare the paratha and omelette and serve this to your guests. Place all the accoutrements in a dish for your guests to assemble themselves at the table.

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Comments

  1. looks divine-if only it was not almost midnight here i would have made this now

  2. Love your post and the family is going to get Kati rolls on the weekend!Keep up the good work.

  3. Shayma,
    My sister Tanya and I are drooling all over the computer. We’re going to try this for lunch tomorrow.

    I love, love, love, love your blog!

    Nida

  4. gourmand says:

    Roti Wraps in the West are a relatively new phenomena but centuries old in the Punjab….where women would prepare paratha rolls to help their men tide over the onerous task in the scorching wheat fields of Punjab!!! But your love and devoted attachment to your aunt Bhupinder is especial….I also love the photo of the Golden Temple. Glad your recipe is from beyond borders…tomorrow is Paratha Day for me..whether from Kolkata, Lahore, Jullundur or even Malaysia!!!

  5. great post as usual!

  6. Wonderful recipe. It looks so delicious! And what a lovely, beautiful story. How lucky to have grown up with someone like that in your life!

  7. This looks amazing. Bravo! I know a place to get parathas in Cairo, so I am going to try this recipe.

  8. Gosh, I wish I had one of these for lunch now…

  9. Shayma, why is the cardamom powder green? Is it ground from the whole pod? Mine is always brown as it’s ground from just the seeds. Dying to know…

  10. i love kati rolls, never tried with an egg though and now I’m craving this roll from your photo! Btw your daal and paratha piece really made me nostalgic because that used to be my frequent request as a child, mmm yummy peeli daal with a crispy paratha.

    As always I love your narration and how it beautifully pieces together around the recipe.

  11. I love reading your stories, and feel like I’m sitting in the row next to Aunty Bhupinder. Those soft buttery hands will never be mine…sigh! Those are some special paronthees Shayma… very like what we get here; authentic and DELICIOUS! I want to see Aunty Bhupinders pic… all that description makes me want to! xo

  12. Shayma – Kati kababs are my all time fave food ever!!!

    I could eat it everyday till I am as big as a house. What a great recipe for Sunday morning breakfast or a weeknight quickie. Looks fabulous!

    Ciao, Devaki @ weavethousandflavors

  13. ooh — i love the kati rolls in delhi — your photos brought me back and made me salivate a little, i must admit. one of the best streetfood dishes i’ve ever encountered. . . your version looks fresh and tasty. your blog and your background are fascinating . . . thanks for your comment. I miss the mangoes of India! and, no doubt, they are delicious in Pakistan and Afghanistan as well.

  14. I enjoyed reading this post and really enjoy that delicious looking roll!

  15. Shayma, the parathas look so fresh, you must have a wonderful market near you. This is just what I’m in the mood for these days, fresh and light.

  16. Sweet mother of God that sounds good.

    YUM YUM YUM.

    LLGxx

  17. Oh, how lovely – kati rolls at home! Hooray!

  18. Wow, these look spectacular. Your story about your Aunty Bhupinder makes me so greatful for the wise-women in our lives! They grandmother-type women who have been there and done that, and know so much–they inspire me so much, I want to cherish them all. I’m so glad you have someone like this close in your life!

  19. shayma says:

    Thank you for the lovely compliments, all. This credit for this recipe goes to the lady- Aunty Bhupinder- who makes these- a fascinating lady.

    @Gourmand Thanks for the wonderful words, as always- and for little golden nuggets of information. We were, after all, one nation at one point- there are so many things we share.

    @Gluttonforlife Indeed- it is the whole cardamom pod- I have made that edit in my post. x s

    @Deeba dearest- I have to dig through my pile of photos to put up a photo of Aunty Bhupinder. Thanks for the loving comment, as always. x s

    @Leela We have so many breeds of mangoes between Pakistan and India, all gorgeous. You’re very fortunate to have had the opportunity to have spent time in our part of the world.

    @Tricia Thanks so much. I do indeed feel grateful.

  20. These look so good and tasty! I don’t think I ever had them. Wonderful post, Shayma joon!x

  21. Mmm-mmm, i’m hungry just looking at that. The idea of rolling egg and paratha is somewhat inspired too. Lovely story attached as always. There’s an intriguing collage of your family’s history and lives building up here.

  22. Simply wonderful and a very tender story :-)

  23. Shayma, have been meaning to comment on your blog for ages, but…volcanoes and other terrible excuses. This is a beautifully written post as always – you have such a gift for description
    K x

  24. Hmmm….I’ve no idea where I would find parathas around here, but I am certainly going to go in search of some so that I can make this delicious looking recipe. My thanks to you, and your Auntie Bhupinder. – S

  25. shayma says:

    @Oui, Chef The frozen ones (which I use) are available at all Pakistani and Indian stores. The Malaysians make the frozen version, too, you can find it in SE Asian grocery stores. You can also use a chapati.

  26. Had ammi make these for my office today. Lovely, two thumbs up. One was according to your recipie, the second one ammi fiddled with on my prodding (the chatni was like we make at home, the egg was not seasoned at all and she added a sliced beef seekh kabab and tahini into the mix along with diced cucumbers). Both came out extremely delicious and ammi asked me to pass you her compliments for such a great recipie.
    take care and Khuda hafiz

  27. Gosh I really shouldn’t have read this before having breakfast, am now ravenous! Lovely post and description of your Aunty Bhupinder Shayma, must try and make her kati roll :)

  28. I love your aunty! Was she really your aunty? or is it like lebanon where everybody is “aunty”?
    This dish, is so refined, I cannot believe it is streetfood!
    I Love Love your writing and the beautiful pics of temples and palaces in Lahore. I hope it will all be preserved for us to see!

  29. shayma says:

    @Umair Thanks for the wonderful feedback, I really appreciate it. You’re very lucky to have a doting mother who cooks for you. Give her my salaams and thanks.

    @Scandilicious Thanks, Sig. x s

    @TasteofBeirut Thanks, Joumana. Aunty and her husband are very old and dear friends of my parents- they are like parents to my mum and dad. So a very dear Aunty and like a grandmother to me- we are very close. Thanks for your lovely words- as always! The photo I have posted is from India- it is the Golden Temple for Sikhs in Amritsar. (Aunty Bhupinder is Indian and a Sikh). Isn’t the temple gorgeous?

  30. That looks awesome. What a lovely story.

  31. Jennifer Ann says:

    I made this last night for dinner and it was absolutely delicious, although not quite as lovely as the photo – is there any trick to that first flip with the omelette and paratha? Perhaps I just need more practice but I could only manage to get half the eggs to cling (the other half I pieced back on after the flip)

  32. @Lizzie Thanks ever so much. x s

    @Jennifer Ann Thank you so much. The trick is for the pan to be quite hot so the base of the omelette is done, and the side you can see on top should be wet, so that it “adheres” to the chapati or bread. When you flip it over, it will continue to cook because of the heat emanating through the chapati or paratha. Hope I am not further complicating the issue! I am sure your kati roll was perfect- with your own touch you have now made it your own. x s

  33. a lovely recipe. being a sikh i loved reading this and seeing the picture of the golden temple. what a lovely aunty bhupinder! i love the sound of these kati rolls.

  34. My mouth is watering- guess what i’m making for dinner today after reading this post! Love your blog, your stories and the pictures! wow! :)

  35. taariq hassan says:

    Oh yaaar, it reminds of eating on the street in Kolkata in 2008. So much ghee, so oily , so unhealthy, so filling, so sinful, YUM!

  36. This is exactly how I make kathi roll. Infact I was suprised when I was scrolling through to find kathi roll on your list as it is not quite north Indian and not remotely Pakistani. I often switch it up with Pita bread because it is so easy available here. And it is as scrumptious as the real thing.

    But the fun of eating kathi roll on the buzzling streets of Kolkatta, the smell of fresh spices as the street vendor sizzles the roll on the hot tawa and the bite of all those incredible ingredients in a bite, it’s priceless and unmatchable.

  37. I just tried this recipe last night, and it came out really good! Thank you! I used a pre made chapati, so my next goal is to create all the major ingredients from stretch. Will post of updates.

  38. hey, simply love your website ! Just came across it :) wanted to ask a quick question….one egg per roll ?

  39. @Zershi Hello- yes, approximately 1 egg/roll. Happy New Year. x shayma

  40. mahmood anwar says:

    Loving your blog. Came across it today and already know I’ll be visiting it many many times.

    One request though, could you give tips to make the recipes healthier.

    • @Mahmood Thank you very much. I suppose you could use a roti/chapati instead of the paratha; omit the egg yolk and make an egg white omelette; use non-fat yoghurt; and perhaps broil the pulled chicken without any oil. I am afraid this may not taste as good, but you could still have your kati-roll. All the best, shayma

  41. I can make the roll. What I want is to borrow Aunt Bhupinder! Lovely story, even lovelier pics… The taste…I’m sure is priceless :)

  42. My husband was drooling even as he told me to check out your blog. To say he loves kathi rolls is an understatement! The story, the images and your inviting writing style have us hooked. This will be a must-try in our kitchen!

    • @Vidya Thank you so much- I learnt from an expert- my Aunty Bhupinder- and I only hope to be able to live up to her standards.

  43. yeh! what a delicious dish. really worth & ofcourse, a nice recipe.

  44. Looks delicious! I have a question: do I pre cook the parathas before frying on top of the omelette? To make sure that the paratha is cooked through on both sides?

  45. I came across this blog whilst looking for a kati roll recipe. I made them tonight and they were absolutely scrumptious!!! I used frozen parathas and they were so easy to make. Thank you for the lovely story along with the recipe. I am looking for an easy naan recipe..I have no luck with baking..lol

Trackbacks

  1. [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Amanda Bensen, s. s said: My new post- Kati Roll-Kolkata style street food- taught to me by an Indian lady who is a grandmother to me http://bit.ly/971yVe [...]

  2. [...] fantastic Spice Spoon, a stellar recentish arrival on the blogging scene. Shayma's latest post is a recipe for a gorgeous-looking 'Kati Roll Kolkata Style', but as ever her piece weaves itself round history, culture, travel and family. It's a joy to read. [...]

  3. [...] before being rolled up, wrapped in paper and devoured on the hop (The Spice Spoon has an excellent recipe). Some say they were invented for famished commuters who wanted a fast, portable snack and others [...]

  4. [...] of The Spice Spoon blogged about a recipe for a Kolkata style kati roll. The combination of flaky flat bread and spiced filling is just amazing. If you can’t be [...]

  5. [...] A year later I decided to explore my love for these Kati Rolls. They are available at HotBreads, but they are not the same as the one in NY. So I started searching the internet for a recipe that would feed my appetite, and I found a good one on Spice Spoon Blog. [...]

  6. […] parents took Mader back to Pakistan after she passed away, while my sisters and I stayed with the Sodhis, very loving family friends who lived next door. They wanted to feed us all the time, perhaps in […]

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