Kathi Kanteen

Aug 17 2023.

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With a history as rich and flavourful as its ingredients, the kathi roll has journeyed from a humble Mughlai eatery in Kolkata to become a global street food sensation, exemplifying how a simple yet brilliant idea can transcend time and place, igniting a global trend that's as delicious as it is culturally significant. Today, these juicy, roasted kebab-filled delights wrapped in tender parathas have captured the hearts and appetites of food enthusiasts worldwide. At Kathi Kanteen, located at Food Studio, One Galle Face Mall, this globally beloved street food takes centre stage.

Nizam's: The Birthplace of Kathi Rolls
Though no official record of this inception exists, it's widely acknowledged that Nizam's was the birthplace of the Kathi roll. Initially a kebab and paratha stall, Nizam's expanded to become a renowned restaurant in 1932, firmly establishing its reputation as a purveyor of exceptional kathi rolls. Even today, the restaurant remains a go-to destination in Kolkata's New Market area, cherished for its authentic rendition of the beloved snack.

Nizam's succulent kebabs, expertly grilled until nearly charred on iron skewers had garnered immense popularity. However, their greasiness and the challenge of eating them on the move posed a hindrance to the loyal patrons who frequented Nizam’s. To ensure they didn't miss out on the patronage of these busy office commuters, the restaurant decided to wrap parathas around the kebabs – an experiment that achieved instant acclaim.

The original kathi roll featured skewer-roasted kebabs nestled in parathas, layered with eggs, and crowned with chutney. As the kathi roll's popularity grew, the offerings expanded to accommodate a variety of palates. Vegetarian fillings like paneer emerged as alternatives to traditional kebab meat. Unlike merely serving as a vehicle for kebabs, the Kathi roll transcended into a dish in its own right, boasting a blend of flavours and textures.

In the 1960s, Nizam's underwent a pivotal change that would further etch the kathi roll's identity. The restaurant transitioned from using iron skewers for kebab preparation to bamboo ones. This shift, driven by cost and convenience, lent the Kathi roll its name, as "kathi" translates to "stick" in Bengali. This simple yet significant change encapsulated the essence of the roll's evolution and the cultural fusion that defined it.

Kathi Kanteen
Kathi Kanteen, located at the One Galle Face Mall Food Studio presents a diverse array of well-loved Kathi rolls for your selection, featuring options like the Bhuna Mutton Roll, Chicken Tikka Roll, and Butter Chicken Roll. In addition to Kathi Rolls, they also serve iconic Mughal delights such as aromatic Biryanis and succulent Shashlik including inventive creations like Masala Chips and Curry Leaf Fries. Their freshly made sauces - Red Chilli Hot Sauce, Yoghurt Ranch, Raw Mango Chutney, Makhani Gravy, Theeka Chutney and Kochchi Sauce - pair perfectly with the different types of Kathi Rolls. Ask the folks at Kathi Kanteen and they will be happy to suggest which pairings work best together.

I tried two Kathi Rolls - the Paneer Butter Masala Kathi Roll and the Beef Seekh Kebab Kathi Roll. The Paneer Butter Masala Kathi Roll, which comprised a paratha layered with egg, and enfolding chunks of creamy paneer resulted in love at first bite! The hearty filling encased in a perfectly crispy paratha was heaven, and the filling itself was incredibly flavourful, further elevated by the addition of coriander leaves. Considering the richness of the butter masala paneer filling, this Kathi Roll didn’t need a sauce to complement it. It was perfect as is.

On the other hand, the Beef Seekh Kebab Kathi Roll comprised a comparatively dry filling which I wasn’t the biggest fan of, unfortunately. The beef seekh kebab itself was wonderful; I loved how succulent, juicy and full of flavour it was. While most may appreciate the refreshing crunch of cabbage and carrot which introduced a contrast in texture, I felt that this dry filling didn’t allow the flavour of the well-marinated beef seekh kebab to shine. The sauces however did help. The tanginess of the yoghurt ranch paired well with the kebab. The kochchi sauce was also delightfully spicy. For a richer flavour, the makhani gravy would be a good bet.

Whether you're craving a swift snack or seeking a delectable bite to cap off a day of shopping at the mall, make your way to Kathi Kanteen to savour the Kathi Roll experience. 

Pic credit: Kathi Kanteen

 


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Rihaab Mowlana

Rihaab Mowlana is the Deputy Features Editor of Life Plus and a journalist with a passion for crafting captivating narratives. Her expertise lies in feature writing, where she brings a commitment to authenticity and a keen eye for unique perspectives. Follow Rihaab on Twitter & Instagram: @rihaabmowlana

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