Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Rock On, Rolls!

McDonald's aggressive promotion of their 'wraps' does raise an eyebrow or two for those who have bit into a roll, standing at the thela at the neighbouring market. Their stuff looks suspiciously like that roll you had but a Paneer Salsa Wrap is not what you called it.
After having a roll after ages yesterday, I thought a Roll Call was the order of the day. The kids need to be enlightened about the real thing. And after all, I have traversed cities in search of A Roll to Soothe Your Soul.

Bedwin (Gariahat Crossing, Calcutta) – In the beginning, there was only this one. Meat chunks (we don’t call them tikkas back home) fried before being embraced by a thickish paratha (roomali roti is for wimps) dripping in oil. Cholesterol watchers are advised to avoid this shop and proceed towards Gol Park down the road, as there is a lot of greenery there. And if you are spicily inclined, then there is a green chilly tucked in the paper that holds the roll together.

And then came Kusum (Park Street, Calcutta), tucked in a side lane off Park Street. Their specialty is MORE! For every roll, they have a jumbo option in doubling the ingredients. So, if you have a Double-Egg-Double-Mutton Roll, you will have down three drinks from Olypub (two shops away) just to soak the protein molecules into a digestible mash. You will probably die but what a reason it will be!

Empire Restaurant (Central Street, Bangalore) – Shawarma, as a concept, was introduced to me when I landed up in Bangalore. It is meat cooked on a vertical skewer flavoured with spices and lemon dripping on to it from the top and the meat is shaved off from the edges – to put into a roll / sandwich. Yes, the result is as tasty as it sounds. It is a gooey, dripping, messy kind of roll – the gravy of which threatens to roll down your wrist if you are not careful enough. But no fear! All you have to do is to roll up your sleeves beforehand and slurp off the gravy when it rolls!
Empire was a place that stayed open late into the night (actually, almost early in the morning) so their shawarmas, kababs and bheja fry provided immense succour after drunken binges.

Qureishi’s (G K II, Delhi) – A common occurrence in Delhi is a shop like this one that doubles up as a meat shop in the morning and an open-air kabab joint in the evening. So, that way you know that the meats are all fresh and fantastic. Their range of kababs – when wrapped in roomali roti – become rolls. Specially recommended is their Chicken Malai Tikka Roll, a hefty succulent thing can easily be dinner for a small eater! For big eaters, have two!

Khan Chacha (Khan Market, Delhi) – There seems to be a debate on whether the shop got its name from the market or the market from the shop. But there are no debates on the heavenliness of their wares! And if you do not land up early enough or do not have iron-plated elbows, then you might as well say goodbye to your fond hopes of reaching the counter. The Chicken Tikka Roomali Roll or their Mutton Seekh Roomali Roll are both permanent fixtures on ‘What You Must Eat in Delhi’ lists and the reputation is completely well deserved.

Al Kakori Al Kauser (Chanakyapuri / Vasant Place Market, Delhi) – Okay, their Kakori Roll is the BEST roll I ever had. In fact, it compares pretty well with the best of what Lucknow’s Tunday Kababi has to offer.
Imagine a Delhi winter evening and you stand in the chilly wind waiting for your order. Then the plate is plonked in front of you and pick up the rolls (one in each hand). In the couple of seconds before you bite, the warmth of the meat and roti permeates your palms and into your body. Then you bite and when the warm mutton spreads itself like butter on your tongue, that is the closest you can get to heaven standing on Outer Ring Road!

Could not avoid the Delhi bias. The blokes here marinate and stew the meat here so well that the rolls turn out to be heavenly. For Mumbai-kars who think Frankies are good, what can I say except that you guys probably deserve Raj Thackeray!

Okay, I have never hankered after rolls as I seem to have mentioned in the opening lines. I am more of a rice-and-meat man and as some learned man said, “Life is nothing but a search for the perfect biriyani…”


Diligent Candy said...

Excellent list. I am feeling extremely hungry now!

Till I was in Gurgaon there was a Qureshi in Phase 1 shopping mall market.

Sanjay said...

An eternal favourite among Calcuttans is the one particular shop (forgot the name) on Park Street between Asiatic Society and Park Hotel. One mistakes the queue in front of the shop for a miniature busstand!

Keep publishing the lists. And do write about the Biriyanis. Would love to contribute!!


Rimi said...

Hot Kati Rolls. That's the shop, and I had to once wait for 17 minutes by the watch to reach close enough and place my order there.

Dipta, I know you don't usually answer comments, but have you eaten at the tinier shops? Biriyaani at Nefeel's, in the lane adjoining Zeeshan's, is pretty good. And it costs 20 bucks a plate :D

(Yeah yeah, I know you wrote about biriyani several times already, but it's a topic that bears endless repetitions)

Bapi said...

As a Calcuttan, I can't conceive of rolls made with any form of bread other than 'parota'. As I can see these Delhi type rolls are very good because of the tandoori content. But Calcutta rolls are heavenly despite not so good meat inside.
It's a big regret that Shiraz does not make rolls. If they did with their 'steroid' parota (or, you may call it paratha if you like,) they would qualify for the equivalent of Nobel prize or Oscar in culinary excellence.
From your blog, I have realised Delhiwallas (and rest of India) need to learn two things from Calcutta -
1. Add Aloo in Biriyani.
2. Make rolls with paratha.

Good blog, write more on food.

OrangeJammies said...

bloody hell, this Atkins is killing me!! KILLING me!!!
A trip to Dilli may be on the cards sometime this year, so maybe I can satiate my cravings then. I'll either be off the Atkins or dead.

Anonymous said...

have u tried saleem chachas in khan market? i like his stuff better. btw..how much does a chicken and mutton kathi roll cost at khan chachas?

Goofy Mumma said...

Is the Qureishi's at GKII that you mention, a branch of the one at South Ex?

Shantanu said...

Shawarmas at Al Bake, NFC Shopping Complex, Delhi!!

Abhishek Mukherjee, BSc MStat said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Abhishek Mukherjee, BSc MStat said...

You might get decent shawarmas in Ar-Han-Thai on Bentinck Street. There are also outlets of the restaurant at Burp! (the food court at Forum) and the Spencer's Food Court in South City Mall.

I've never been to Kusum, though I've seen trailers of a serial called Kkusum.

Bedouin on Nandy Street brings back fond memories. It was ALWAYS the halting point if we had to go from school to tutions. The egg potato roll at five rupees was the bestest value for money.

I know you've been to Campari (by location) and Nizam's (by birth). But do try Khalique, just off Free School Street. It's unbelievable.

And for those staying in Kolkata, you might want to read this:

Rajesh Kumar said...

Wow! wonderful post! what a nice picture. Way too tempting. Yum! I don't have an outdoor grill, but well now I know I can try in my oven too, so I'm gonna try it out very very soon chinese food