The most popular of all Indian Street foods have been the Kathi Rolls that originated from Kolkata.
Chef Gujyote Sethi (Chef GJ), explains the origins of the kathi roll, “The Kathi roll gets its name from the legendary kathi kebab which is the fundamental component of kathi rolls. Originally the Bengalis used bamboo sticks to skewer kebabs. Its’ these bamboo sticks that are referred to as ‘kathis’,.” However over many decades, there have been multiple variations to the original recipe. The kathi kebab is slowly fading away, however, the kathi roll remains as one of Kolkata’s favourite street food, with its grilled meats and veggies. In the late eighties and nineties is when the big transition happened. The kathi rolls that we see today, are more saucy, to compliment the known western taste buds that are familiar with spices and sauces such as kormas and butter chicken.
The Kathi rolls are the best thing to have happened to India’s grab and go Millennial generation. Very Easy-to-eat, loaded and ever-so-delicious, these rolls are the perfect pick for those who are in a rush, or are simply laidback that love their meals to be convenient and extremely tasty!
Step 1: The Paratha (Wrapper)
The most important component of a good Kathi is the Paratha. The vessel in which the entire Kathi is housed. A Paratha is flat unleavened bread, resembling a small thin naan bread. The main difference is that a Paratha is pan fried on a flat iron griddle.
Parathas are a golden-brown color and layered. The Paratha name comes from a combination of words parat and atta (flour), referring to the cooked, layered dough. It consists of whole wheat flour that is baked in ghee (Indian clarified butter) and is traditionally made in a round shape.
With respect to Kathi rolls, a good paratha needs to be able to hold the meat and veggie fillings without breaking or getting overly soggy. It is for this reason that the Paratha for the Kathi must be made slightly thicker and blended with wheat and maida (all purpose flour). For a Kathi, the paratha is cooked on a large tawa, twice.
Step 2: The Egg Came first
The traditional Kathi roll included egg. This process is unique as the street vendor would typically crack either 1 or 2 eggs right onto the paratha while it is on the tawa (griddle). Both the Paratha and the egg cook together and the paratha gets flipped and coated on one side with the egg. The egg provides the much needed structure as well as flavour. In India most vegetarians are ok with eating eggs and is usually a favourite protein for most vegetarians. For larger meat and kebab kathi rolls the egg adds robustness and seals the paratha from becoming soggy. Chef GJ claims that a true Kathi should have egg added to the roll. This is what make the Kathi so unique.
Step 3: Kathi Roll Fillings
The kathi roll has so many variants. Most of today’s Innovations tend to be the fillings and internal filling combinations. Common variants on the filling are egg, potato, paneer, mixed vegetables and curried chicken or mutton. More exotic versions may have different ingredient combinations, or fancy curries such as Butter sauce or Korma.
Kathis have ruled desi hearts and was fast food well before the chains of McDonalds, Subway and Taco Bell etc. Quick, Spicy and decadent, these rolls that once hailed from Bengal; has now had a global appeal. For more information on Kathi Rolls by Tiffin2Go, feel free to contact us.