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The Kathi Rolls of Kolkata

27 Feb

Whenever I travel to different parts of India, I like to try out the local foods. Once such Indian “Fast food” which originated in Kolkata and is now available in most parts of India is the Kathi Roll or the Kathi Kabab Roll as it is called in different parts of the country.

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Attached is a wikipedia link, for historical details,

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I visited Nizam’s the source where this form of the roll originated. Nizam’s is located behind the Oberoi Grand in Kolkata. To get to it one needs to walk through extremely crowded streets till one gets to an old building which probably looks the same since it was started 70 years ago.


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The menu was limited, just rolls, biryanis and some gravies with rotis and parathas. Different types of rolls were available, in combination, of egg, vegetable, chicken and mutton, with options of single or double portions.

The ratio of waiters, dressed in islamic green costumes,  to customers was almost 1:1, so service was fast. A large suspicious looking board read, “No Beef”.

I chose the grandest of the rolls, a Double Paratha, double egg, double mutton roll (No wimpy chicken rolls for me). Even this hefty combination cost Rs. 62/- a small sum considering similar meals in other towns wold set you back Rs. 200/-. I asked for what was available to drink and got an answer, coke, limca or sweet lassi. I went with the conservative limca.

The roll arrived in ten minutes wrapped in paper, with the waiter telling me, that he had included a lemon and that I need to squeeze it on the roll.

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I grabbed the roll with both my hands and gave it a big bite. I was delicious, lovely crisp paratha, the double egg had been spread on both sides of the paratha and was perfectly cooked, lots of raw thin spirals of onion and well cooked and wonderfully flavoured pieces of mutton, they also appear to have added a tart sauce on some kind on the mutton. All in all a wonderful experience, one of the best rolls I have eaten anywhere in India. The quantity was plenty and I was glad I hadn’t ordered two. Great value for money and worth the walk into this crowded location.

A must for any foodie when one visits Kolkata.


Ashwath Ram

February 26th 2011





Anatomy of a Five Star Indian Breakfast Buffet

30 Jan

I love breakfast buffets in India, especially those at holiday resorts. Nothing feels better than going for a jog or a walk along then beach, getting back to your room, hitting the showers and then heading out to partake on a sumptuous feast. This is not a meal to be taken lightly (Hah!). One needs to prepare and strategize on how one needs to handle the flow and quantity of food to ensure maximum foodie delight. One needs to carve out a couple of hours from one’s day and plan for at least 8 hours after this meal when one does not see any other food.

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The modern buffets cater to all tastes around the world, while retaining its distinctive Indian flavour.

The buffets are broken into sections catering to different markets and tastes, so there is something for everybody and lots for the food lovers.

Breads and Baked Goods: This section typically holds fresh breads, the famous Indian white and wheat toast breads (more robust than the typical American whites that crumble when you try to butter them without a brush). Some hotels have good french breads, baguettes, chocolate croissants, danish, doughnuts, tarts, coffee cakes, etc. Avoid the entire section if you are on Atkins diets. Lots of fresh butter is always handy, after all – what is good toast without lots of salty “Amul” butter.

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Juices and drinks: This section typically holds fresh juices (Orange, Watermelon and Mousambi [Sweet Lime]) are most common in India, but some hotels have others such as apple, mixed fruit, mango, kiwi, these could be fresh depending on location and season or from cartons. There is usually a vanilla, strawberry or chocolate milkshake with fruit smoothies now available in the better buffets. I get my “paisa vasul” (value for money) in this section.

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Cold Cuts and Cheeses: This section as expected has delectable slices of ham, turkey, chicken ham, and assorted typed of cheeses including camembert, cheddar, brie these are usually served with crackers. Great for people on high protein diets. Frequented by “goras” (white folk) and yuppie kids.

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Breakfast cereal and Milk: An assortment of the usual packaged cereals and some fresh muesli. Lots of fresh cold and hot milk for the milk drinkers. The waiters will usually whip up a hot chocolate if you ask for one. Some Indians like milky chai (tea) and supplement the regular tea with extra milk from this area.

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The Indian Vegetarian food section: This is the favorite section for most Indians. Here one gets to sample Dosas (savory rice and lentil pancakes made thin and crisp), Onion Utthapas(the pancake with onions, chillies and tomatoes added), Idlis (steamed rice and lentil dumplings, staple food for most of South India, probably the most healthy food on the table), Medhu Vadas (fried savoury rice and lentil doughnuts) all served with hot sambhar (soup of spices, vegetables and lentils) and coconut and chilly chutneys. This is where the discerning Indian food lover is heard telling the manager that their chutney is inedible – for anyone used to the authentic Palaghat Iyer chutneys, this comes as a rude shock. The good hotels usually take the feedback and return with suitable modified chutneys with enough chillies to kill small animals but with a flavour designed to go with the Indian meal and bring out the taste of the hot tea thats usually drunk with the meal. Other buffets have Puri-bhaji (A North Indian favourite, rolled and fried dough eaten with a spicy potato and tomato curry), Upma (a spicy savory dish made of cream of wheat, onions, chillies and other spices), in the west and south they have sheera/kesari (a sweet version of the upma with no vegetables, garnished with raisins and roasted cashewnuts). The dosas are typically prepared fresh on the spot by a chef and served piping hot, enjoyed with South Indian coffee. Some hotels also serve fresh aloo (potato), gobhi (cauliflower) or mooli (white radish) parathas, these are incredible when eaten with dahi (plain yoghurt), amul butter and lime or mango pickle. The Indian section has so much variety that its hard to imagine, so one needs to come prepared to spend a few hours and sample each type of food.

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Eggs and meat : This is one of my favorite areas, here a chef will fix you up with a nice sets of fried eggs, a fluffy or flat masala and cheese omelet (with onions, tomatoes, chillies) or masala bhurji “scrambled eggs with the masala). Usually this area is supplemented with sausages, bacon, fried tomatoes, hash browns and tons of tomato ketchup a must for every breakfast. Indians typically eats eggs with crisp toast and butter and hot “ginger” tea on the side makes this go down real smooth.

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Fresh Fruits and Yoghurt: This is great wrap-up to the meal, lots of fresh oranges, apples, pears, peaches, pineapple, plums and other season fruits. My favorite are in the winter when one gets fresh anjir (figs) and chikoo (Sapota fruit imported by the Portuguese from south America). There are different flavors of yoghurt available the most common being strawberry, peach, mango and plain. Some hotels now serve baked yoghurts that are also very nice.

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Armed with this information you are now ready to go to any large five-star hotel and assault their buffet for complete happiness. Enjoy!