Want to make Kolkata’s favourite street snack? Try the kebab-wrap mash-up that is a kati roll.

Two kati rolls are displayed on a plate; colourful vegetables are spilling out of the wraps.
The first kati rolls trundled out of the kitchens of Nizam’s Restaurant in Kolkata in the 1930s and they've been popular ever since © Indian Food Images / Shutterstock

What is it?

Is it a kebab? Is it a wrap? A souped-up sandwich? A powered-up paratha (fried flatbread)? Enter the kati roll – Kolkata’s favourite portable snack. 

Ingredients (serves 8)

For the kati filling: 
1 tsp ground cumin 
1 tsp ground chilli 
½ tsp lemon juice 
1½ tsp ground coriander seeds 
1 clove garlic, crushed 
½ tsp pepper 
½ tsp ground ginger 
1 tbsp canola oil 
salt, to taste 
400g (14oz) minced (ground) lamb

For the parathas: 
2 cups atta (wholewheat flour)
½ tsp salt 
1 cup water 
½ cup ghee

For the kati rolls: 
1 onion, chopped 
2 green chillies, chopped 
1 egg, beaten 
garlic-and-chilli sauce
plus your parathas and kati kebabs 

Top tip: to spice up your parathas, fold mashed potato, chopped coriander leaves (cilantro), cumin seed and chilli into the dough before you roll it out.

A meat kati roll being gripped by a person's hand, with the open end pointing directly towards the camera. Inside the roll the meat filling is visible.
It's claimed the kati roll was invented as a portable tiffin (light lunch) for Bengali office workers © Artit Wongpradu / Shutterstock

How to cook

For the kati filling:
Step 1: Grind the spices and other ingredients into a paste, then mix together with the minced lamb, and marinate for about four hours.
Step 2: Form the mixture into long sausage shapes and press on to metal skewers.
Step 3: Grill the kebabs over hot charcoal, or in a hot oven, turning regularly and brushing with extra oil to seal in the flavour.

For the parathas: 
Step 1: Make a dough with the flour, salt and water.
Step 2: Take egg-sized balls of dough and rub them with ghee, then set them aside for 30 to 45 minutes.
Step 3: Roll the balls of dough into flat sheets, then heat on a tava or hotplate for about 45 seconds on each side, until brown spots appear. Brush with a little extra ghee on each side during the cooking process to crisp up the paratha. Set aside.

For the kati rolls: 
Step 1: Saute the onion and chilli in a wok or frying pan until the onion begins to turn transparent.
Step 2: Brush one side of each paratha with the beaten egg, cook until the egg sets, then remove from the heat.
Step 3: Place in the middle of each paratha the onions and chilli, a kati kebab, and a squeeze of garlic-and-chilli sauce. Roll tightly and serve.

An elevated view of Mullik Ghat Flower Market in Kolkata; hundreds of vendors and buyers fill the colourful scene.
Just like a kati roll, the city of Kolkata excites the senses, with its artisan workshops and colourful goods markets © travelwild / Shutterstock

Tasting notes

During the evening rush hour, when office workers gather for their nightly fix, you’ll see vendors rolling this portable feast at breakneck speed. Sizzle, seal, wrap and deliver, sizzle, seal, wrap and deliver, then on to the next customer in seconds flat. The flavours are rich, fragrant and immediate. The softness of the paratha gives way to the tender meat within, and each bite delivers a crunch of chilli and onion and a swoosh of sauce and spices. Kati rolls should be eaten fresh off the tava (griddle) when the paratha is hot and the sauces and meat juices are still mingling. Vegetarians can get in on the act with kati rolls filled with spiced egg, potato and paneer.

Other recipes in this series:
Israeli shakshouka
Louisiana jambalaya
South Korean bibimbap

Have you recreated any of the dishes featured in this series so far? Share your pictures with us on Twitter and Instagram by tagging @lonelyplanet. For more great recipes, check out Lonely Planet’s book The World’s Best Street Food.

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