TheCalmDev (Dev J Haldar)

ravings, rantings and ramblings

Ode to the Humble Kathi Roll

Most South Asians, especially from the sub-continent, will know the pleasure of sinking their teeth into a hot and juicy ‘kathi’ roll! It is a unique preparation that is something in the middle of a starter and main course. And while on the subject, this needs to stated that the best ‘kathi’ rolls are the ones that are made by the street-side vendors.

Let me into the simplicity of this humble ‘kathi’ roll. A toasted flatbread is the base. No inter-continental cousins like burritos can substitute the flatbread. In India and Pakistan, it is called ‘parantha’. So, while the flatbread is being toasted, an egg is beaten well with some salt and chilly. A splash of oil, throw in the egg emulsion and as soon as you see the egg firming up like an omelette, place the flatbread on the semi-liquid egg. Flip it over, a couple of times and take it off the heat. Chopped onions, salt, pepper, squeeze of lemon and chilly sauce rolled into the egg ‘kathi’ roll. That, my friend, is the quintessential ‘kathi’ roll.

Varieties are also available. Egg. Mutton. Chicken. Egg Mutton. Egg Chicken. Double Egg. Double Egg Chicken. Double Egg Mutton. Here, take the tissue and wipe that drool off. Oh, I haven’t mentioned any vegetarian options as they just simply don’t qualify as a ‘kathi’roll. Apologies, veggies.

The Humble KATHI ROLL
‘for illustration purpose only’

I have seen enough of those being made. I can visually tell if a certain roll will be carry the right DNA of a Calcutta ‘kathi’ roll. I have tasted some delectable rolls on the roadsides of Kolkata and Delhi. I know the imposters as well. They never will see me as a repeat customer.

My search for that delicious ‘kathi’ roll took me to Shiraz Golden Restaurant. The name can be a little misleading – it has nothing to do with the Iranian city, or wine. Shiraz in Bur Dubai serves Awadhi food – food that was native to the royal kitchens of the Nawabs of Awadh or Oudh during the British Raj in India, specially during the life and times of Nawab Wajid Ali Shah.  Well, the man certainly had good taste in food. No wonder that those recipes are now a hand-me-down reality for food buffs like me. Shiraz originally opened up in Calcutta, India’s gourmet capital. This is their second and first international outlet.

I need to clarify, that I work on a simple principle when it comes to food. If the simple can me made in a lip-smacking way then the exotic dishes are worthy of a try. And a Kolkata food joint needs to be taste-tested by asking for the ‘kathi’ roll.

As I hungrily tore off the tissue, I could tell that this ‘kathi’ certainly was rich with promise. The first bite in it certified that it was a thorough-bred ‘kathi’ roll. Ah! The pleasure of the crumbly exterior that holds a fluffy egg; wafting with the smell of the green chilly and chilly sauce.

Shiraz certainly passed the ‘kathi’ roll test. And now, for over a year, I have been a regular and a loyal customer; using it as a venue to catch up with friends. And whatever be ordered from the menu – be it the Awadhi biryani, or chicken chaap or the mutton rezala, it all starts with the ‘kathi’ roll!

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9 comments on “Ode to the Humble Kathi Roll

  1. vibsbha
    June 30, 2012

    Reblogged this on vibhabhatt and commented:
    Had to reblog for food lovers (unfortunately veggies like me cant benefit) … :))

  2. I Live in a Frying Pan
    June 30, 2012

    Such sharp writing, love the breakdown of kathi rolls. Shiraz’s is my current favourite too, though I’ve seen a couple other places around Dubai with Kathi rolls in their name, so more anda chicken paratha exploration awaits.

  3. @LesleyCarter: thank you so much!

  4. Mini
    July 3, 2012

    Reading this has left me drooliinngggggggggg…..please pass on the address:-)

    • Thank you for dropping by Mini. The restaurant is located off Khaled Bin Al Waled, behind Habib Bank (I think… never noticed the bank). You can call on 04 358 9818

  5. doubledolphin
    August 18, 2012

    Hmm. It has become difficult to find really great kathi rolls in Kolkata though. I am extremely finicky when it comes to food and I look for a particular taste. Sharma Dhaba on Ballygunj circular road has a surprising new innovation. A roll made with rumali roti, and stuffed with one entire plate’s worth of chicken tikka. One roll and you’ll have to skip dinner. Delicious.

    • Dev J Haldar aka TheCalmDev
      August 19, 2012

      The mention of the roomali roll reminded me of a famous joint in CR Park, Delhi (and is no more) that used to make the best North Indian chicken tikka rolls, exactly the way you say it. And as for Sharma Dhaba – I am inviting myself over there next time I am in Kolkata. We need to embark on a culinary trail (starting with Naga Chicken)!

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