For every Kolkatan Bengali, the egg roll holds a special place. It is a simple yet filling street-food dish that was traditionally bought by workers on their way home from work as a tummy filler. Now, tourists from all over the world seek to try (and re-try) one when they are in the city.
Another place that is now famous for kati roll is Kusum. The sheer experience of watching your roll being made is one to remember. In their work area, they have hundreds of pre-made porota dough balls, that upon each order are rolled out and cooked fresh, then filled with your choice of fillings and sauces – all made and served to you in a matter of seconds.
This dish was one of the main inspirations behind opening our street-food van, Raastawala. We wanted people in London to be able to experience this unique street food. Although any flatbread can be used to make a kati roll, in this recipe we will make a porota, just like they make on the streets of Kolkata. Traditionally, the roll is filled with chicken cubes, or even double egg kati rolls can be requested, with shredded onion, cucumber and tomato ketchup. Further fillings of marinated meats and veg can also be added. It can be served for lunch, dinner or as a snack. In this recipe, I have added a chickpea (garbanzo bean) filling, as the combination works really well together.
For the porota
300 g (scant 21/2 cups) plain (all-purpose) flour, plus extra for dusting
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon butter
about 120 ml (1/2 cup) lukewarm water
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
sea salt, to taste
2 tablespoons rapeseed (canola) oil
For the fillings
1/2 cucumber, julienned
1 red onion, finely sliced
2 chillies, finely chopped
1/2 lime, for squeezing
1 tablespoon rapeseed (canola) oil
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
ó white onion, finely chopped
1 teaspoon sugar
400 g (14 oz) tin of chickpeas (garbanzo beans), drained
1 tomato, roughly chopped
1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
1 teaspoon grated garlic
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon dried fenugreek leaves
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon Greek-style yoghurt
1/2 teaspoon mint sauce
1 teaspoon tamarind sauce
1 teaspoon Pudina Chutney (page 213)
1/2 teaspoon black salt
fresh herbs, for sprinkling
To make the porota, combine the ﬂour, salt, sugar and butter in a medium bowl and mix well to a ﬁne breadcrumb texture. Slowly add half of the water and knead into a soft dough, adding extra water if required. The dough should be soft and bouncy. Cover with a damp dish towel and leave to rest for 25 minutes.
For the ﬁlling, place the cucumber, onions and chillies in a bowl, squeeze over some of the lime juice and mix. Leave to pickle.
Once the dough has rested, divide into 4 equal portions. Dust the work surface with some ﬂour and roll out the dough balls into ﬂat discs, about 15 cm (6 in) in diameter. Slit each disc from the middle to the edge, then roll them into cone shapes. Squeeze between your palms to ﬂatten the cones from the top to the bottom, then leave to rest for 10 minutes. Once rested, roll each piece out to a 15–17 cm (6–61/2 in) round.
While the dough is resting, make the other fillings. Heat the oil in a small pan over a medium heat. Add the cumin seeds and allow to crackle, then add the chopped white onion and the sugar, and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes. Add the chickpeas, tomato, ginger and garlic, stir well and cook for 4 minutes. Add the ground spices and fenugreek, stir to coat the chickpeas and cook for 4 minutes. Add 150 ml (generous 1/2 cup) water and bring to a simmer. Add the salt, reduce the heat, cover and cook for a further 8 minutes. Remove the lid and check that the water has evaporated to form a dry gravy. If there is excess liquid, increase the heat and allow the water to evaporate. Set aside.
In a small bowl, mix together the yoghurt and mint sauce. Set aside.
Return to the porota. Crack one of the eggs into a separate bowl and whisk with a pinch of sea salt. Heat a medium frying pan (skillet) over a high heat. Add 1/2 tablespoon of the oil and heat for 1 minute, then place a porota in the pan and cook until golden spots appear. Flip and cook on the other side until golden. Sprinkle a pinch of the cumin seeds over the porota, then pour over the beaten egg and flip the porota again. The egg will now be under the porota. Keep pressing down on it to ensure that both the bread and the egg are fully cooked. Remove and wrap in foil while you cook the rest of the porota and eggs.
To serve, place a sheet of greaseproof paper on a plate and top with a porota. Spoon a line of the chickpea filling down the middle, add a line of the salad followed by another squeeze of lime juice. Drizzle with tamarind sauce, mint chutney and the yoghurt raita. Sprinkle with a pinch of black salt and some fresh herbs. Roll up using the paper to help you, twisting the sheet at the end to enclose. Repeat for all the porota and serve hot.
Extract from Kolkata by Rinku Dutt, published by Smith Street Books, distributed by Thames & Hudson Australia, AUD$55.00 NZ$60.50, available now.