History of the Kathi Roll
The History of the Kathi (pronounced Kha-thee) Roll
Kathi roll also known as Kathi (skewers) Kebab Roll is a street-food originating from Calcutta. Originally, it was a kebab enclosed in a paratha (bread), but over the years many variants have evolved all of which now go under the generic name of Kati Roll. Common variants of the filling are egg, soft cheese, mixed vegetables and curried meat.
There are many stories about how exactly the roll got started, but one of the most well known one goes that Sheikh Hasan Reza, a petty clerk from Calcutta, decided in the early 1900s that his career wasn’t going anywhere and he’d be better off selling food.
He began with a tiny stall, hawking kebabs and rotis (the thin Indian bread) and when he realized that the finicky Brits who visited his stall didn’t like getting their fingers greasy, he hit upon the idea of the kebab wrap - the kathi kebab. The kati part of the name came later when Nizam's (famous restaurant in Calcutta) used iron skewers to make their kebabs.
Nizam enjoyed a virtual monopoly of this method of serving a kebab for decades, but it eventually became commonplace in Calcutta and later spread elsewhere. Nizam’s- which was the restaurant Reza soon set up - is today a popular restaurant, without any smart maître d’ or other jazz - but with splendid food.
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Making a Kathi Roll
Traditionally a Kathi Roll is a skewered kebab wrapped in a thin bread (paratha).
To start off, a paratha is fried on the pan and as the paratha is half cooked, some egg (beaten) is spread on the paratha and cooked together until the egg sticks to one side of the paratha as a nice lining.
Chicken or cottage cheese chunks marinated in spices are cooked on skewers over coals (or on a wok when prepared commercially). in the mean time. When the paratha is ready, the chicken or cottage cheese filling together with sliced onions, cut green/red chillies, sprinkled black salt and a touch of lime/lemon squeeze are all mixed together on the paratha. The paratha with all the above ingredients is then wrapped with a wax paper covering and the Kathi Roll is ready to serve. It's of course then eaten piping hot as a delicious savory and spicy street food which is easy to remember and more hard to forget once you’ve tasted it.