It started with a good old greasy paratha, rolled with succulent chunks of meat and slivers of onion - and Delhiites got hooked to the varied culinary experiences a kathi roll has to offer.
Today, it's not just the street stalls rolling out kathis or supermarkets stocking the frozen options, but a host of new eateries dedicated to rolls are coming up and even the posh restaurants are including contemporary variations of the humble kathi roll in their menus.
Though the original kathi roll recipe dates back to early 1930's at Nizam's, Kolkata, the Delhiites have been equally enthusiastic about including it as a street food staple. Eateries such as Nizam's and Khan Chacha have always served juicy rolls to kebab loving Delhiites but now a host of healthy and fusion options are being added to the city menus.
Monish Gujral, chairman, Moti Mahal says, "The growing popularity has something to do with the fact that it so characteristically fits into the modern hurried life of Delhiites. It's quick, filling, comprises flat bread, meat or paneer, which are the essential dining out choices of most Delhiites."
Food trend watchers also say that a kathi for its convenience is gaining a global nod.
The Kati Roll Company, a chain of restaurants serving rolls in NYC and London was listed amongst 50 fastest growing Asian-American businesses in US in 2012 by the US Pan Asian American Chamber of Commerce. Gujral says, "Why just vada pav, a roll is our answer to a burger or a subway."
Chef Theodor Rudiferia, Hilton, says, "Rolls are central to all cultures, whether it's the spring rolls in China, In Mid-east it's the doner kebabs, Japanese like their maki roles and burritos remain a Mexican favourite, so a kathi roll for Delhiites makes sense."
USP: The new summer menu at the eatery has included a variety of rolls but with a fusion touch to it ensuring that it is easy on stomach during the harsh Delhi summers. Chef Nishant Choubey has introduced summer cottage cheese and pepper rolls with navel oranges and the ubiquitious roll favourite - red onions. There are also paper rolls with melon spinach and green onion fillings.
Price: Rs. 400 plus taxes per roll
At: Ambience Mall, Gurgaon
USP: The traditional chicken and paneer kathi rolls are given a contemporary twist in terms of presentation and are served in easy to eat bite sized portions. The recipe is kept authentic with juicy morsels of chicken and paneer tossed with Indian spices and wrapped in egg-coated paratha, served with mint chutney. Executive Chef Bernhard Koenig says, "At any time, kathi rolls remain one of the most popularly ordered item."
Price: Rs. 825 plus taxes for veg and Rs. 875 plus taxes for non veg per roll
At: The Lalit, Barakhamba Avenue
USP: At the new restaurant chicken and paneer kathi rolls are popular. The preparation is authentic though the chefs have skipped the egg layering on the flat bread to make it more summer specific. Executive chef, Rohit Tokhi says, "These rolls are the original finger food and can control the hunger pangs for hours, being a very high calorie food."
Price: Rs. 600 onwards per roll
At: Kempinski Ambience Hotel, Shahadara
USP: For those who want a quick, fulfilling but healthy bite, the recently opened place has included sauteed paneer or chicken tikkas wrapped in whole wheat parathas. The rolls are available during the lunch hours only.
Price: Rs. 650 per roll
At: The Lodhi, Lodhi Road
USP: Keeping in mind the hurried, snacking habits of Delhiites rolls with succulent flavours, served with dips and chutneys are served in this place opened this week. The rolls are made with a little shift to the mainstream recipe to make it a healthy option for city dwellers.
Price: R99-139 per roll
At: Moti Mahal Delux, Jangpura Extension
USP: The funky new eatery packages rolls in a unique way. Co-owner Rahul Khanna says, "We have packaged the traditional rolls in a way that appeals the youth." You can order variations such as Chettinad Southy Mind It roll or Bombay Style Franky roll besides Rollu's Tawa Masala and other such experimental flavours.
Price: Rs. 110 onwards per roll
At: 28 A, Defence Colony Market
USP: The new eatery that promises value for money food options for Delhiites includes chicken and paneer wraps. To cater to health conscious youngsters the flat breads are non-greasy.
Price: Rs. 99 onwards per roll
At: How Abt Chicken Today, 25, Nehru Place & 6, Community Centre, New Friends Colony
Roll Me One
USP: Frequented by college goers, the street style shack rolls out lunch and dinner options with Lebanese and Mexican rolls besides the desi chicken, cottage cheese, paneer khurchan rolls apart from shawarma, galauti & falafel wraps.
Price: Rs. 100 onwards per roll.
At: 37, Flyover Market, Defence Colony